Skip to main content

Full text of "The history of the South African forces in France"

See other formats










First Edition published March Tg20. 
Second Edition published April ig20. 


In the autumn of 191 6 I was asked by the Union 
Government to undertake the official History of the 
South African Forces in Europe. At the time I was 
serving in France, and had therefore an opportunity 
to see something of the Infantry Brigade. For various 
reasons I was unable to begin the work until after the 
signing of the Armistice : since which date I have had 
at my disposal all official papers, and have received 
the assistance of many South African officers. I desire 
to express my gratitude to Major- General Sir H. T. 
Lukin, Brigadier- General Dawson, Brigadier- General 
Tanner, and the various battalion and battery comman- 
ders for the help they have given me. I would especially 
thank Major H. P. Mills of the Third Regiment, but 
for whose unwearying co-operation the book could not 
have been written. My aim has been to tell as simply 
as possible the story of a great military achievement, 
to my mind one of the finest in the whole history of the 
campaigns ; and, at the same time, to provide a detailed 
account of the operations of the infantry and the other 
services, which, I trust, may be of interest as a war 
record both for the men who fought and for the country 
which sent them forth. J. B. 




I. The Raising of the Brigade ii 

II. The Campaign in Western Egypt .... 23 

III. The Battle of the Somme: Delville Wood . . 43 

IV. The Battle of the Somme : The Butte de Warlen- 


V. The Battle of Arras 104 

VI. The Third Battle of Ypres 128 

VII. The Eve of the Great German Attack . . . 148 

VIII. The Somme Retreat : Gauche and Marri:^res 

Woods 165 

IX. The Battle of the Lys 193 

X. The Summer of 1918 216 

XI. The Advance to Victory 228 

XII. Conclusion 257 


I. The Heavy Artillery 267 

II. The South African Signal Company (R.E.) . . 279 

III. The Medical Services 317 

IV. The Railways Companies and Miscellaneous 

Trades Company 333 

V. The Cape Auxiliary Horse Transport Companies 337 
VI. Victoria Crosses Won by South Africans during 

the War 341 

VII. Honours Won by the South African Forces in 

France 349 

Index 387 



Del ville Wood 

Major-General Sir Henry Timson Lukin, K.C.B 

C.M.G., D.S.O 

"Nancy," the 4th Regiment Mascot, on the 

Somme Battlefield 

Lieutenant-Colonel F. A. Jones, C.M.G., D.S.O. 
Longueval Village after the Battle . 
Brigadier-General W. E. C. Tanner, C.B., C.M.G 


Lieutenant W. F. Faulds, V.C. 
Lieutenant-Colonel E. F. Thackeray, CM. G., D.S.O 
Brigadier-General Frederick Stewart Dawson 

C.M.G., D.S.O., A.D.C. . . 
Second-Lieutenant W. H. Hewitt, V.C. 
Lieutenant-Colonel E. Christian, D.S.O. 
Lieutenant-Colonel F. H. Heal, D.S.O. . 
Lieutenant-Colonel D. M. MacLeod, D.S.O., M.C 


Lieutenant-Colonel W. H. L. Tripp, D.S.O., M.C 
Lieutenant-Colonel N. Harrison, C.M.G., D.S.O. 
Colonel P. G. Stock, C.B., C.B.E. . 
Lieutenant-Colonel F. R. Collins, D.S.O. 
Lieutenant-Colonel G. Helbert, C.B.E. . 


. Frontispiece 
Facing page 18 







1. Operations on the Western Frontier of Egypt. Facing page 

2. Scene of Earlier Operations near Mersa Matruh „ 

3. The Advance to Agagia and Barrani . . „ 

4. Barrani to Solium „ 

5. Longueval and Delville Wood . . . . „ 

6. The Fighting before the Butte de Warlen- 

court „ 

7. The Scene of the Advance of the South African 

Brigade against the Butte de Warlen- 
court Position „ 

8. The South African Brigade at the Battle of 

Arras : First Stage of the Advance . . „ 

9. Battle of Arras : Final Stage of the Advance . „ 

10. The South African Attack at the Third Battle 

of Ypres „ 

11. The Third Battle of Ypres 

12. The Positions held by the South African Bri- 

gade at the outset of the German Offen- 
sive of 1918 „ 

13. The Somme Retreat „ 

14. The Retreat of the South African Brigade . „ 

15. The Fight at Marrieres Wood .... „ 

16. The Action of the South African Brigade on 

Messines Ridge „ 

17. The Scene of the Fighting round Mont Kemmel 

18. The Fighting about Meteren .... „ 

19. The Victorious Advance. Operations of the 

XIII. Corps up to nth November 1918 . „ 

20. The South African Attack beyond Beau- 

revoir, 8th October 1918 .... „ 

21. The Advance from Maretz to Reumont . . „ 

22. The Fighting for the Crossing of the Scllc • „ 





The Purpose of the Book — South Africa in History — Her Problem 
at the Outset of War — General Botha's Proposal to Furnish 
a Contingent for Europe — ^The Composition of the Brigade — 
The Officers — Brigadier-General Lukin — ^The Heavy Artillery 
Batteries — ^The Field Ambulance — The Medical Services — 
The Contingent arrives in England — ^The Situation at the close 
of 1915 — ^The Brigade ordered to Egypt. 

THIS book is the tale of a great achievement in 
war. It is a record of the deeds of that expedi- 
tionary force which represented South Africa on 
the front in the West. There were South Africans in 
many British battaHons, in cavalry regiments, in the Flying 
Corps, in every auxiliary service ; but here we are con- 
cerned only with the contingent which, with its appurten- 
ances, was the direct contribution of the Union Govern- 
ment to the main battle-ground. It is a tale to be proud 
of, for among the many brigades in that field the South 
African Infantry Brigade may be said, without boasting, 
to have had no superior and not many equals. In the 

fellowship of war great deeds go to a common stock, and 



iht 4tejiit pi on^ k thii credit of all. But it is permitted 
to detach the doings of a single unit, not to make petty 
comparisons, but to hearten ourselves with the con- 
templation of exploits which offer an incontrovertible 
proof of manly virtue and civic vigour. In such a spirit 
let this story be told. 

South Africa is no newcomer among the nations, 
for she has interested the world for three thousand years. 
She was the port of Phoenician adventurers centuries 
before the birth of Christ ; she was the goal of the great 
Portuguese captains in the first dawn of the Renais- 
sance ; Holland claimed her when Holland was the first 
of sea-Powers ; she received the flower of the Hugue- 
nots scattered by the French religious wars. During 
the century which has elapsed since Britain first acquired 
an interest in her soil, she has been the theatre of many 
wars, as she has been the cradle of many industries. 
** From Africa comes always some new thing " — ^the 
proverb is as old as Aristotle ; and the ancient continent 
has not lost her power to surprise the world. South 
Africa has had some magic in her to beguile the hearts 
of all races, and he who has once been captured by the 
love of her wide sun-steeped spaces will never forget 
them, and, though he leave her, will assuredly return. 
For her charm lies in the paradox that she is long- 
descended and old, and yet eternally young. Distant as 
she is from the main centres of the world, scarcely one 
of the great crises of modern history has left her un- 
touched ; and it was right, nay inevitable, that in a war 
of nations she should play a conspicuous part. She 
who had passed through so many furnaces, could not 
stand aside when that for which her sons had often 


fought was challenged, and the hard-won gains of civili- 
zation stood in jeopardy. 

Of all the nations of the British Commonwealth she 
had at the outbreak of war the most intricate task. 
Australia and New Zealand, once the Pacific Islands 
were cleared, were free to look to Europe ; Canada had 
no nearer enemy than the Germans in France and 
Flanders ; but South Africa had foes within and with- 
out her gates. She had to contend with internal 
revolution and with the enemy across her border, while 
a thousand miles off, in German East Africa, there 
awaited a problem which she must help to solve. Hence 
the first business of her Government was her own 
security. When on September 8, 1914, General Botha 
announced that, after due consideration, he and his 
colleagues had resolved to carry the war into German 
territory, " in the interests of South Africa as well as of 
the Empire," he could not foresee what this most 
honourable resolution involved. Germany had been 
engaged for years in putting temptation in the way of 
restless spirits within the Union. In a month Maritz 
was in revolt in the north-east part of the Cape Pro- 
vince, and conducted a guerilla campaign till the end 
of October, when Brits and Van Deventer drove him 
over the German frontier. About the same time, 
within the confines of the Union, rebellion broke out 
under De Wet and Beyers, and it was not till the close 
of the year that the treason was crushed by Botha with 
firmness and far-sighted humanity. Early in 191 5 
began that great " drive " in German South- West Africa 
which brought the troops of the Union on 12th May to 


Windhoek, and on 2nd July to Otavifontein, and on 
9th July forced the enemy remnant to an unconditional 
surrender. Of this campaign let General Smuts speak : 
" Not only is this success a notable military achievement, 
and a remarkable triumph over very great physical, 
climatic, and geographical difficulties. It is more than 
that, in that it marks in a manner which history will 
record for all time the first achievement of the United 
South African nation, in which both races have com- 
bined all their best and most virile characteristics, and 
have lent themselves resolutely, often at the cost of 
much personal sacrifice, to overcome extraordinary 
difficulties and dangers in order to attain an important 
national object.'' 

General Botha did not rest on his laurels. He saw 
the great war in its true perspective, and recognized 
that no part of it was alien to South Africa's interest. 
She was as intimately concerned in the decision now 
being sought on the battlefields of Europe as in clearing 
her own borders. He was in the highest sense a patriot, 
for, while abating nothing of his loyalty to the land of 
his birth, he saw that the fortunes of that land were 
indissolubly bound up with the fortunes of the British 
Commonwealth, and of that civilization which Germany 
had outraged. Hence, he could not acquiesce in South 
Africa's inaction after the close of the German South- 
West campaign. But the old problems were still there. 
He dared not denude the country of too many of her 
most loyal and vigilant citizens so soon after the Rebel- 
lion. Moreover, there remained German East Africa, 
where at the moment the British troops were precari- 
ously situated, and it was already becoming clear that 


South Africa must take a hand in that campaign. As 
early as April 191 5, the Union Government had dis- 
cussed the matter with the Imperial Government, for it 
was reasonable to suppose that the troops would return 
from German South-West Africa shortly after mid- 
summer, and it was necessary to decide on ^ j 
a plan. In July the Imperial Government ^ ^ ^ ^' 
accepted General Botha's proposal to furnish a con- 
tingent for Europe. South Africa's exchequer, already 
depleted by her local wars, could not undertake the 
equipment and payment of these troops throughout the 
campaign. It was accordingly arranged that the con- 
tingent should be equipped, as far as possible, from 
stores in hand and paid by the Union up to the date 
of their embarkation. Thereafter they would be paid 
at the rate of British regular troops,^ and have the status 
of the new service battalions of the British army. 

The War Office had asked especially for infantry, 
and an infantry contingent was bound to be raised 
largely from the inhabitants of British blood. The 
Dutch had provided mounted troops, who had done 
fine service in German South-West, and were to do still 
finer work the following year in German East Africa. 
They were natural light-cavalrymen, and the infantry 
service had not for them the same attraction.! But 
throughout the land there were men who had served in 
the war of 1 899-1 902— some of them old regulars ; 

* On January i, 1917, the pay of privates was raised to 3s. 
a day, but other ranks continued to draw pay at Imperial rates. 

t About 15 per cent, of the original Brigade was Dutch. The 
proportion rose to something like 30 per cent, before the end of 
the campaign. 


there were the various volunteer regiments; and there 
were many young men in town and country whose eyes 
turned naturally towards Europe. Sir Charles Crewe 
was appointed Director of Recruiting, and there was no 
lack of response to the appeal. It was generally agreed 
that, considering the smallness of her white population 
and the complexity of her other tasks, a brigade of 
infantry was the most that South Africa could raise and 
keep up to strength. The war in Europe was costly in 
men ; 15 per cent, per month was the estimated rate 
of reinforcements required, and in the event of heavy 
fighting it was clear that this figure must be exceeded. 
Accordingly a brigade of four battalions was decided 
upon, and at the same time it was resolved to dispatch 
to Europe five batteries of Heavy Artillery, a General 
Hospital, a Field Ambulance, and a Signal Company 
to be attached to the Royal Engineers. The battalions 
were designed to represent the main divisions of the 
Union, and recruits were given the option of joining the 
regiment affiliated to their own province. 

The four battalions were constituted as follows : 
the ist South African Infantry was the Cape of Good 
Hope regiment, drawn largely from the " Old Colony ; " 
the 2nd South African Infantry was the Natal and Orange 
Free State regiment ; the 3rd South African Infantry 
was the Transvaal and Rhodesia regiment ; the 4th 
South African Infantry was the South African Scottish 
regiment, recruited from the Scottish regiments existing 
in the Union, the ist and 2nd Transvaal Scottish and 
the Cape Town Highlanders, and from the members 
of the various Caledonian societies. This last regiment 
is of special interest to the historian, for it had a long 



ancestry. It descended from the 77th (AthoU) High- 
landers, through the Scottish Horse and the Transvaal 
Scottish regiments, and had, therefore, something of 
the continuity in tradition of the old regular Army.* 
As originally formed it numbered 1,282 of all ranks, of 
whom 337 were Scottish born, 258 EngUsh, 30 Irish, 13 
Welsh, 595 South African, and 49 of other origin. In 
nearly every company the Scots were stronger than any 
other element except the South African born, who, of 
course, included a large proportion of men of Scottish 
descent. We may take the constitution of the 4th as in 
other respects typical of all the regiments. It showed 
292 men not older than twenty years, 350 between 
twenty and twenty-five, 232 between twenty-five and 
thirty, 212 between thirty and thirty-five, and 196 be- 
tween thirty-five and forty. Only 344 of the rank and 
file were without previous military training ; of the rest 
64 had been in the Regular Army, 760 in territorial, 
volunteer, or irregular units, 97 in both regulars and 
irregulars, and 17 in the police. Occupations were thus 
represented : mining, 234 ; agriculture, 69 ; police and 
military, 21 ; government service, 145 ; business, 722 ; 
and the various professions, 91. 

Few of the new brigades were better supplied with 
men of the right kind of experience, for many of the old 
South African irregular corps had records of which any 
army might be proud ; and no brigade showed a better 
standard of physical well-being. It should also be 
remembered that the level of education and breeding 

* The regiment wore the tartan of the Atholl Murrays. The 
story of the Atholl Highlanders may be read in The Military History 
of Perthshire, by the present Duchess of Atholl. 

(2,097) 2 


was singularly high. The Brigade resembled indeed 
the famous 51st Division of Highland Territorials, 
which was largely a middle-class division. In the slow 
intricacies of a modern campaign there is need of in- 
telligence and responsibility and power of initiative in 
every man ; and these are found at their best among 
those who fight not only because they like it, but because 
they have much to fight for, and are determined to get 
the job finished. The possession of some education 
and a serious purpose in no way lessens dash and tena- 
city in the field. This was the moral of the Highland 
Territorials who were given first place in Germany's 
catalogue of her most formidable opponents, and it was 
also the moral of the South African Brigade. 

Sir Charles Crewe was appointed Honorary Colonel 
of the ist Battalion, General Botha of the 2nd, General 
Smuts of the 3rd, and Colonel Dalrymple of the 4th. 
The commanding officers selected were all permanent 
members of the Union Defence Force. They were — 
for the ist. Lieutenant- Colonel F. S. Dawson, who was 
then in command of the 4th South African Mounted 
Rifles ; for the 2nd, Lieutenant- Colonel W. E. C. 
Tanner, District Staff Officer, Pietermaritzburg ; for 
the 3rd, Lieutenant-Colonel E. F. Thackeray, District 
Staff Officer, Kimberley ; for the 4th, Lieutenant- 
Colonel F. A. Jones, D.S.O., District Staff Officer, 
Johannesburg. Major J. Mitchell Baker, of the General 
Staff of the Union Defence Force, was Brigade Major ; 
Captain A. L. Pepper, Staff Captain ; and Lieutenant- 
Colonel P. G. Stock, Senior Medical Officer. The depot of 
the Brigade was fixed at Potchefstroom, where there ex- 
isted large cantonments and all facilities for mobilization. 


Commanding South African Brigade to December 191 6, and 9th 

Division from December 1916-February 19 18. 


To the command of the Brigade was appointed 
Brigadier- General Henry Timson Lukin, C.M.G., 
D.S.O., the Inspector- General of the Union Forces. 
General Lukin was a man of fifty-five, who had had a 
long and distinguished record in South African cam- 
paigns. He had fought in the Zulu War, and had been 
severely wounded at Ulundi. He was in Basutoland 
in 1 881, and in the Langeberg affair in 1896-7. In the 
war of 1 899-1 902 he commanded the artillery at the 
siege of Wepener, and was thereafter in charge, first of 
a mounted column, and then of the ist Colonial 
Division in Cape Colony. In the German South- 
West campaign he commanded a mounted column in 
the northern force under Botha, which marched east 
from Walfisch Bay ; after Botha's departure he was 
entrusted with the details of the final German sur- 
render ; and at the time of his appointment to the 
Brigade was the General Commanding the Union 
Forces in German South- West Africa. He was the 
essential fighting man, inured to the hardships of war ; 
but a life spent in campaigning had in no way impaired 
his genial humanity. By virtue of his wide experience 
and his resourceful temper he was a commander well 
fitted for a brigade so varied in composition and destined 
to fight on such diverse battle-grounds. 

At the same time the five batteries of heavy artillery 
were assembled. In the German South- West campaign 
a Heavy Artillery Brigade, armed with 4.7 and 4-inch 
naval guns, had been formed at Cape Town, the per- 
sonnel being drawn from non-commissioned officers of 
the Royal Marine Artillery and from the various South 
African artillery regiments. In June 191 5 this Brigade 


was disbanded, and in July, largely from the old Brigade, 
a regiment of heavy artillery was recruited for Europe. 
Only men of fine physique and of a standard height of 
5 feet 8 inches were accepted, and the roll was closed 
when it reached a total of 600. The regiment contained 
five batteries, the ist representing the Western Cape 
Province, the 2nd the Eastern Cape Province, the 3rd 
the Transvaal, the 4th Kimberley and the Diamond 
Fields, and the sth Natal. Before they appeared on the 
fighting front the War Office decided that they should 
be rated as siege artillery, armed with 6-inch howitzers, 
and affiliated to the Royal Garrison Artillery. This 
involved each battery receiving an R.G.A. number. 
The ist Battery became the 73rd Siege Battery, R.G.A., 
under the command of Major Brydon ; the 2nd, the 
74th, under Major Pickburn ; the 3rd, the 71st, under 
Major Harrison ; the 4th, the 72nd, under Major Alston ; 
the 5th, the 75th, under Major Tripp.* 

The ist South African Field Ambulance was mob- 
ilized at Potchefstroom during August, under Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel G. H. Usmar, S.A.M.C., and was 
attached to the Infantry Brigade. This was a departure 
from the usual practice, for a field ambulance is classed 
as divisional troops under the orders of the Assistant- 
Director of Medical Services in the division, and a 
new-formed brigade usually meets its field ambulance 
for the first time when it joins its division. The General 
Hospital mobilized at Wynberg, its personnel being 
largely composed of volunteers from the staffs of No. i 
General Hospital, Wynberg, and No. 2 General Hospital, 
Maitland, and included representatives from all the 
♦ See Appendix I. 


provinces of the Union. It accompanied the Brigade 
to England, and provided the staff for the depot there, 
and for the South African MiHtary Hospital at Rich- 
mond, as well as for No. i South African General Hos- 
pital in France.* 

Between the 28th of August and the 17th of October 
the whole contingent embarked at Cape Town for Eng- 
land. The Infantry numbered 160 officers ^ _^ 
and 5,648 other ranks ; the Heavy Artillery, 
34 officers and 636 other ranks ; and the 
Signal Company, 6 officers and 198 other ranks. By 
the beginning of November all the services were safely 
established on English soil — ^the Infantry being quar- 
tered at Bordon, the Field Ambulance at Fleet, and 
the Heavy Artillery at Bexhill. For two months the 
units were busy with their training, varied by the cus- 
tomary inspections. On 3rd November the Brigade was 
reviewed by General Sir Archibald Hunter, the G.O.C. 
Aldershot Command, and on the 19th the same officer, 
accompanied by the Duke of AthoU, visited the 4th 
Battalion. On the 9th the South Africans furnished a 
detachment for the Lord Mayor's Show. On the 21st 
the senior officers went to France for three days' duty 
with the army in the field, and on 2nd December the 
Brigade was reviewed by the Queen. 

* A medical unit with South African personnel for service with 
the French Army was formed in South Africa in the autumn of 
1914 by the Soci6t6 Fran^aise du Cap. Early in 1915 this unit 
was estabHshed by the French mihtary authorities at the Hotel 
Beau-Rivage at Cannes, which was equipped as a hospital for the 
reception of French sick and wounded. It did admirable work 
under the auspices of the French Red Cross, with which it was 


It was an obscure and critical moment in the war. 
The great Russian retreat had come to an end, but Mac- 
kensen had overrun Serbia and driven the AlHes back 
to the entrenched camp of Salonika. GallipoU was 
about to be evacuated. The ambitious attacks of Loos 
and Champagne had achieved no decision. The first 
instalment of the new British levies had taken the field ; 
Sir Douglas Haig had replaced Sir John French as 
the British Commander-in-Chief, and had begun that 
elaborate system of training which was to make his army 
in two years the most formidable in the world. The 
early hopes of the Allies had been dashed, and men were 
slowly recognizing that the war was a longer and grimmer 
business than they had foreseen. Already there were 
mutterings of that storm in the west which in two 
months time was to break around Verdun. The South 
African Brigade was at first attached to the i6th (Irish) 
Division, and it was expected that the middle of Decem- 
ber would see it in France. But on 7th December the 
plans were altered. For its first taste of war the Brigade 
^ was to retrace its course, and return again 

^ ' ^ ' to the continent which it had left. On 30th 
December the four battaUons embarked at Devonport 
for Alexandria. 


(January-April 1916.) 

The Position in Egypt at the close of 1915 — ^The Western Frontier 
— ^Trouble with the Senussi — General Wallace's attack on 
Christmas Day — ^The Arrival of the South African Brigade at 
Alexandria — ^The Battle of Halazin — ^The Battle of Agagia — 
The March upon Solium — ^The exploit of the Armoured Cars — 
The Brigade leaves for Europe. 

AT the close of 191 5 the main British force in Egypt 
/-\ was concerned with the defence of the Suez Canal 
^ ^against a threatened attack by the Turks from their 
Syrian bases. The Canal, as Moltke had long before 
told his countrymen, was for Britain a vital artery, and 
Egypt was the key of all her activities in the Near and 
Middle East. Suddenly, as is the fashion in the Orient, 
a new trouble blew up like a sandstorm in the desert. 
The Western frontier, some 700 miles long, adjoined 
the Italian possessions in Tripoli ; but, though the 
Treaty of Lausanne had given Italy the suzerainty of 
that province, her writ ran feebly in the interior and her 
occupation had never been effective beyond the coast- 
line. When she declared war on Austria, she was com- 
pelled to leave the inland tribes to their own devices, and, 
stirred up by German and Turkish agents, they prepared 


for mischief. The chief of the Turkish agents was Nuri 
Bey, a half-brother of Enver, and about April 1915 a 
certain Gaafer arrived from Constantinople with large 
supplies of money and arms. His instructions were to 
mobilize the Arab and Berber tribes of the Libyan 
plateau for a dash upon Egypt from the west. 

The hope of the Turks in that region lay in the sup- 
port of the great Senussi brotherhood. The Senussi 
form one of those strange religious fraternities familiar 
to the student of Northern Africa. Their founder had 
been a friend of Britain and had refused to cast in his 
lot with the Mahdi. He had preached a spiritual creed 
which orthodox Islam repudiated, and his followers 
had stood outside the main currents of Moslem life, 
holding apart from all secular politics, and declining any 
share in the propaganda of Pan-Islamism. Their head- 
quarters were the oases of the Northern Libyan desert, 
and they looked without disfavour upon the rule of 
Britain in Egypt. Their Grand Sheikh, Sidi Ahmed, 
had at the outbreak of the war given assurance of friend- 
liness to the Anglo-Egyptian authorities, and his official 
representatives dwelt on the banks of the Nile in good 
relations with the Government of Cairo. 

But the overtures of Nuri and Gaafer proved too 
much for the loosely organized tribesmen of the Senussi, 
and ultimately for the Grand Senussi himself. The 
Egyptian littoral as far as the Tripoli frontier was sparsely 
populated, consisting only of a few coastguard stations 
and the strip of flat land between the Libyan plateau and 
the sea. The Khedival highway, a rough unmacadam- 
ized road cut as a relief work during famine, ran to 
Solium on the border, and a railway ran west from 



Alexandria to Dabaa. It was only at the north end 
that the frontier had to be guarded, where were many 
little oases linked up by caravan-tracks, for to the south 
lay the impassable wastes of the Libyan desert. The 
possibility of trouble was suspected in May 191 5, but 
it was not till August that the first hostile incident took 
place, when two British submarines, sheltering from bad 
weather on the Tripoli coast, were treacherously fired 
upon by Arabs, under a white officer. In the first 
week of November the crews of the Tara and the 
Moorina, torpedoed by enemy submarines, landed in 
Cyrenaica, and were taken captive by the Senussi. On 
the 6th of that month, the little port of Solium was 
shelled by U-boats, and an Egyptian coastguard cruiser 
sunk. After that Solium and Sidi Barrani were sub- 
jected to repeated attacks by land, and it became neces- 
sary to admit a state of war. 

The frontier posts were drawn in to Mersa Matruh, 
which, with a railway eighty miles distant and the sea 
at its door, was well-equipped as a base to defend the 
marches. On nth December Major-General Wallace, 
in command of the hastily-collected Western Frontier 
Force, moved out from Mersa Matruh and drove the 
enemy from the Wadi Senaab. On the 13th his column 
dispersed with considerable losses some 1,200 Arabs 
near Beit Hussein. Towards the end of the month an 
enemy force of some 5,000, under Gaafer, concentrated 
eight miles south-west of Matruh, and on 

Christmas Day General Wallace marched ^^' ^^' 

• 1 1 , 1915- 

agamst it with two columns, one composed 

of English Yeomanry and Australian Light Horse, and 

the other of the 15th Sikhs, a battalion of the New 


Zealand Rifle Brigade, and a territorial battalion of the 
Middlesex. The action was of the familiar type — a 
frontal attack by the infantry, and a wide circling move- 
ment by the horse, and it resulted in a substantial check 
to the enemy. He lost nearly 500 killed and prisoners, 
and most of his transport and supplies, and the Grand 
Senussi and his staff retired to Unjeila and Bir 

But the enemy was checked and not routed, and early 
in January 191 6 he reappeared in force some twenty-five 
miles south-west of Matruh. It was clear that to safe- 
guard the frontier he must be driven westward out of 
Egyptian soil and south into the desert, and General 
Wallace had not at his command the troops for such an 
operation. It was at this time that the South African 
Brigade arrived in Alexandria. 

The contingent had had a fair voyage after the first 
few days at sea. Submarines were active in the Medi- 
terranean, and stringent precautions had to be taken in 
the way of guards and boat drills, which, combined with 
the congestion of the ship, made Hfe on board a Spartan 
business. At Malta the Governor, Lord Methuen, was 
prevented by illness from greeting his old friends, but 
he wrote to General Lukin : " South Africa has been a 
second home to me. Fourteen years of my life have 
been spent there, and you know the love we bear for 
each other. I look back as the proudest and happiest 
time of my life on the helping hand I gave to General 
Botha and General Smuts in the formation of your 
great citizen army, that true bond of union between 
Englishmen and Dutchmen. We little thought how 
soon and how splendidly you would be called upon to 


show its value." On loth January the Saxonia reached 
Alexandria, and the Corsican, bringing the 4th South 
African Regiment and the Field Ambulance, arrived 
three days later. The Brigade encamped under canvas 
at Mex Camp, six miles west of the city, where they 
spent some days in training and in perfecting the local 
defences. On i8th January they were inspected by the 
G.O.C. of the Forces in Egypt, Lieutenant- General Sir 
John Maxwell, who years before had been Military 
Governor of Pretoria. ** The South African Brigade," 
he wrote, ** is evidently fit to take its place alongside 
the best troops in the army," and he expressed the 
hope that it might soon have the chance of meeting the 
enemy. His hope was speedily realized, for next day 
came orders for part of the Brigade to move towards 
the western marches. 

An infantry battalion was required at once to rein- 
force General Wallace for his attack upon the enemy 
concentration south-west of Matruh. The 2nd South 
African Regiment was chosen, and two companies, under 
Major Christian, embarked on the afternoon of the 19th 
on their sixteen-hours voyage.* Next day the remainder 
of the regiment followed, and by the even- 
ing of the 21st, after a weary time in bucket- ' ^ ' 

ing little coasters, the 2nd South Africans, 
under Lieutenant- Colonel Tanner, were at Matruh await- 
ing orders. The whole force moved out next afternoon 
to Bir Shola, eighteen miles distant, and the South 
Africans, still fagged from their journey, found their 
first day in the field a high test of endurance. They 

* Troops could not be moved to Dabaa by rail from lack of 
rolling stock. 


bivouacked for the night at Bir Shola, and at six o'clock 
^ on the morning of the 23rd, General Wallace 

^ * •'* began his preparations for attack. He dis- 
posed his troops in two columns. One on the right, 
consisting mainly of infantry, under Lieutenant- Colonel 
J. L. R. Gordon, included the 2nd South Africans, the 
15th Sikhs, the ist Battalion New Zealand Rifle Brigade, 
and a squadron of the Duke of Lancaster's Yeomanry ; 
the second, echeloned on its left front and moving parallel 
with it, consisted of squadrons of the Dorset and Herts 
Yeomanry, the Royal Bucks Hussars, and the Australian 
Light Horse, under Brigadier- General Tyndale Biscoe. 

About 8.30, when the infantry were some seven miles 
from Bir Shola, the mounted column became engaged 
with the enemy, who was occupying as his advanced 
position a half-moon of ridge, on which he had prepared 
trenches not easy to locate. The ground, except for 
the undulations, was utterly featureless and treeless, 
and a morning mirage increased its difficulty. The 
mounted column found itself checked, and the infantry 
were ordered to attack the enemy centre and left, while 
the cavalry covered its left flank and worked round the 
enemy right. There followed a stubborn battle, the 
ground traversed being often no better than a swamp, 
owing to the abnormal rains. The 15th Sikhs led, with 
the 2nd South Africans in support, and the attack, spread 
over a mile and a half of ground destitute of any cover, 
gave a fine target to the enemy artillery and machine 
guns. There were many casualties, and, since the hostile 
positions were in the shape of a semicircle, it was im- 
possible to avoid flanking fire. But the infantry steadily 
pressed on, and after the first three-quarters of a mile 


had been covered, the South Africans, hitherto in sup- 
port of the Sikhs, were ordered to extend the attack to 
the right. The Senussi were forced back from their 
forward lines, and retreated slowly and with much skill 
the three miles to their main camp at Halazin, resisting 
all our efforts to get to close quarters. About two in 
the afternoon the Sikhs in the centre, the South Africans 
on the right, and the New Zealanders on the left, were 
close on the main enemy position, but their flanks were 
in jeopardy, for the Senussi still kept their semicircular 
formation, and their horns threatened envelopment. 
Tanner was obliged to leave a company to protect his 
right flank, and the reserve battalion of the column, the 
i/6th Royal Scots, had to be put in to avert danger from 
the same quarter. 

By 2.30 our infantry had broken into the main posi- 
tion, but the mounted troops on their left were less 
happily fated. They had been compelled to give 
ground, and were now nearly a thousand yards behind, 
so that Colonel Gordon had to detach two companies 
of the New Zealanders to assist the cavalry and protect 
his left rear. This proved sufficient, and by 4.30 the 
Senussi were in retreat, and their camp given to the 
flames. But the sun was now low in the west, our 
horses were too exhausted to pursue, and the baggage 
camels of the enemy were allowed to retire unmolested. 
Our troops were compelled to bivouac on the ground 
won — d, comfortless bivouac, for it rained in sheets, and 
they had no supplies or blankets, seeing that the trans- 
port was bogged in the mud three miles west of Bir 
Shola. Mud, indeed, had been the trouble of the day. 
It had hindered the cavalry from giving due support 


to the infantry, and it had deprived the latter of the 
Royal Naval Armoured Car Division, which had been 
detailed to defend their right flank. The following 
CY morning the troops struggled through the 

^ ' ^' quagmires to Bir Shola, and on the 25th, 
in better weather, returned to Matruh. 

The South Africans had come well out of their bap- 
tism of fire. They had lost in killed, one olBicer (Captain 
J. D. Walsh) and seven other ranks ; one officer (Lieu- 
tenant W. G. Strannock) and two other ranks died of 
wounds ; four officers and 102 other ranks were wounded. 
It must be remembered that no time to rest had been 
given them after a fatiguing voyage, and that they were 
already weary before the battle began. Yet all observers 
bore testimony to the " invincible dash and resolution 
of their attack." * In that desert fighting we relied 
much upon the work of our airmen, and it is interesting 
to note that among the most brilliant members of the 
Royal Flying Corps attached to the Western Frontier 
Force was a South African, Lieutenant van Ryneveld. 

The Western Frontier Force was now completely re- 
constituted. General Wallace's health did not permit 
him to continue in the command, and his place was taken 
by Major-General W. E. Peyton, who had commanded 
the 2nd Mounted Division at Suvla Bay. The 2nd 
Mounted Brigade replaced the composite Yeomanry 
Brigade, and the place of the Sikhs and New Zealanders 
was filled by the South African Brigade, which by the 
middle of February had arrived in its entirety at Matruh. 

♦ The phrase is Sir John Maxwell's in his dispatch of March i, 


Sufficient camel transport had now been provided to 
make the columns really mobile, and to enable them to 
follow up any success. 

Early in- February it became clear that the main 
Senussi forces were near Barrani, with a smaller body 
at Solium, and that to pacify the country these forces 
must be beaten and dispersed. It was difficult to land 
troops at Solium, for the place was commanded by 
encircling ridges, and, since it would be necessary to 
sweep the mines at the entrance to the harbour, a sur- 
prise was impossible. General Peyton accordingly 
resolved to attack by land. His object was to occupy 
Barrani and Solium, after which supplies would be 
available by sea. The problem before him was largely 
one of physical difficulties, for the land was almost 
devoid of water. An advance depot was established at 
Unjeila on the i6th of February, and on ^ , 
20th February a column under General Lukin 
moved out from Matruh with orders to occupy Barrani, 
as the first stage on the road to Solium. 

The column consisted of the 3rd South African 
Regiment, the Dorset Yeomanry, the Notts Battery, 
R.H.A., one squadron of the Royal Bucks Hussars, the 
I /6th Royal Scots, and two field ambulances. Its course 
lay north of the Khedival highway, practically along 
the line of an old Roman road. The scanty wells were 
as often as not the ruins of Roman cisterns, so that the 
new defenders of civilization followed in the steps of 
the greatest empire of the past. The weather had 
changed since the January fighting at Halazin. Scorch- 
ing winds and a glaring sun made the march arduous, 
but since the route ran close to the sea the men could 


refresh themselves with sea-bathing at the different 
halting places. Bir Abdih was reached on the afternoon 
of the 2 1 St, and Unjeila, 32 miles from Matruh, on the 
22nd. Here the ist South Africans, who had gone on 
ahead on the i6th, joined the column, and the greater 
part of the Royal Scots remained as garrison. On the 
24th Lukin was at Maktil, where his column rested for 
a day. The Senussi had been located at Agagia, 14 miles 
south-east of Barrani, and it was ascertained from captured 
Bedouin that both Nuri and Gaafer were with them. 

During the 25th, while the troops rested in camp, 
the enemy was observed in considerable numbers about 

„ , three miles to the south, and a good deal 

' ■^' of sniping followed. Lukin had decided to 
make a night attack, moving off at 7 p.m. ; but Gaafer 
anticipated him, for about half-past five he opened on 
our camp with two field guns and at least one machine 
gun. Lukin at once moved forward the Royal Scots 
on his right, and the ist South Africans on his left, with 
the 3rd South Africans in reserve. The enemy guns 
had been located, and were quickly silenced by our 
artillery, and in half an hour, with the loss of one man 
killed and one man wounded, the threatened assault was 
frustrated. The incident compelled Lukin to cancel 
the orders for the night march, and he resolved to 
advance against the enemy at daybreak. 

A Yeomanry reconnaissance sent out at dawn on 
the 26th, reported that Gaafer had evacuated his posi- 

_, , ^ tion of the previous night ; and presently 

we learned from our aircraft that he was back 

on his old ground near Agagia. At 9.30 Lukin moved 

out his whole force, leaving 300 Royal Scots to guard his 


camp. He had now with him six armoured cars, under 
Major the Duke of Westminster, which had just arrived. 
Three-quarters of an hour later the Yeomanry seized 
a Httle hill rather more than two miles north of the 
enemy's position. This enabled us to reconnoitre the 
field, and at eleven it was possible to join battle. In the 
centre the 3rd South Africans, under Lieutenant- Colonel 
Thackeray, advanced on a front of about 1,700 yards, 
with Yeomanry and armoured cars on either flank. The 
I St South Africans formed the general reserve. The 
guns were brought up to a point about 4,500 yards from 
the enemy, but were outranged, and played little part 
in the beginning of the action. Presently Lukin moved 
them to 3,500 yards range, where their shrapnel was more 

The battle which followed was a model of a success- 
ful desert action. Lukin had his main strength in 
mounted troops on his right, and it was his plan that 
these, when the infantry had broken the enemy, should 
swing round his flank and rear, prevent him breaking 
west, and round up his retreat. As the 3rd South 
Africans advanced with admirable steadiness the enemy 
opened a heavy fire upon them with rifle and machine 
gun and more than one field piece. Then, following 
his old practice, Gaafer attempted an encircling move- 
ment against our left. Lukin ordered Lieutenant- 
Colonel Dawson to send a company of the ist South 
Africans to that flank, and so checked the enemy 
manoeuvre. As soon as this danger was past he with- 
drew the squadron of Yeomanry on his left to augment 
the mounted troops on his right. The firing line 
was now within 300 yards of Gaafer's posts. In order 


to gain fire superiority at once, Lukin brought the 
greater part of his reserves into the fight, and sent a 
message to Colonel Souter, commanding the Yeomanry 
on his right, that now was the time to push forward. 
In a few minutes the company of the ist South Africans 
on the left flank broke into the enemy position, the 3rd 
South Africans followed immediately, and presently 
the whole enemy lines were in our hands. 

It was now the turn of the Yeomanry. When 
Colonel Souter received Lukin 's message about one 
o'clock, he resolved to let the enemy retreat get clear 
of the sandhills, and then attack it in the open. His 
pursuit, therefore, took a line parallel to the enemy's 
retirement, and about a thousand yards to the west of 
it. The rest is best told in Colonel Souter 's own words : 
** About 2 p.m. I saw for the first time the whole re- 
treating force extend for about a mile, with a depth of 
300 to 400 yards. In front were the camels and baggage, 
escorted by irregulars, with their proper fighting force 
(Mahafizia) and maxims forming their rear and flank 
guard. I decided to attack mounted. About 3 p.m. 
I dismounted for the last time to give my horses a 
breather and to make a careful examination of the ground 
over which I was about to move. By this time the 
Dorset Regiment was complete, and, as the squadron 
of the Bucks Yeomanry had gone ahead and could not 
be found, I attacked with Dorsets alone. The attack 
was made in two lines, the horses galloping steadily 
and well in hand. Three maxims were brought into 
action against us, but the men were splendidly led by 
their squadron and troop leaders, and their behaviour 
was admirable. About 50 yards from the position I 


gave the order to charge, and with one yell the Dorsets 
hurled themselves upon the enemy, who immediately 
broke. In the middle of the enemy's lines my horse 
was killed under me, and, by a curious chance, his 
dying strides brought me to the ground within a few 
yards of the Senussi General, Gaafer Pasha." 

This very complete success, due to the perfect co- 
ordination of infantry and yeomanry, and General 
Lukin's power of prompt decision after the action had 
begun, was not gained without severe losses. These 
were chiefly among the mounted troops, for when 
their oflacers were killed the men were apt to carry on 
too far. The infantry casualties — almost all incurred by 
the 3rd South Africans — ^were i officer (Lieutenant Bliss) 
and 13 other ranks killed, and 5 officers and 98 other 
ranks wounded. The capture of Gaafer and his staff 
deprived the enemy of his principal general, and two 
days later Barrani was occupied by us without a blow. 

** It was the Battle of Agagia," General Peyton sub- 
sequently wrote, ** which sealed the fate of the combined 
Turks and Senussi who had contemplated an attack on 
Egypt." The possession of Barrani enabled us to bring 
to that port supplies by sea and to make of it 
a new advanced base. After the action at Halazin the 
2nd South African Regiment had been employed in 
furnishing escorts for convoys between Matruh and 
Unjeila. This task was now accompHshed, and by 8th 
March the 2nd and 4th Regiments had joined Lukin at 
Barrani, together with the rest of the 2nd Mounted 
Brigade and two sections of the Hong-Kong and Singa- 
pore Mountain Battery. After their defeat the Senussi 
had retreated westward towards Solium, and the Egyp- 


tian Bedouin, notably the Aulad Ali tribes, began to 
desert in large numbers and sue for pardon. The time 
had not yet come, however, for negotiations. The 
enemy had occupied his old camp near Solium, which 
had been the Grand Senussi's headquarters before the 
campaign began , and there was the danger that he might 
receive reinforcements from Tripoli. It therefore be- 
hoved General Peyton to strike again without delay, and 
to clear Egyptian soil up to the frontier. 

To Solium there were two routes : one by the Khe- 
dival road along the coast, the other inland by the high 
ground of the plateau. For military purposes the latter 
was to be preferred, for the ridges rise steeply behind 
Solium, and to attack the enemy's camp from the coast 
would have been no light undertaking. It was better 
to move inland and come upon the Senussi from the 
south and south-east. The main problem, as in all 
desert warfare, was that of the water supply ; but General 
Peyton's intelligence led him to believe that there were 
sufficient wells by the inland route to supply his force if 
it moved in two parts and made careful use of its reserve 
water park. 

On 9th March a column, under Lukin, left Barrani 
to secure the plateau by way of the pass called the Nagb 
^ Medean. The troops were the whole South 

* ^' African Brigade, a squadron of the Dorset 
Yeomanry, the Hong-Kong and Singapore Mountain 
Battery, and a Camel Supply column and train, and it 
was arranged that they should be joined later by the 
Armoured Car Battery and a company of the Australian 
Camel Corps. Solium lay 50 miles off along the coast, 



and to turn its encircling escarpment the plan was to 
march to Bagbag, and then strike south-west for Bir-el- 
Augerin, after which an attempt would be made to seize 
the passes which led from the south-east to the Solium 
tableland, notably the Nagb Medean and the Erajib. 
These passes could not be used by the armoured cars, 
so it was arranged that they should go further south 
by a practicable route, and join the column when the 
Medean pass had been taken by the infantry. General 
Peyton had planned that the second column, consisting 
of mounted troops and camel transport, should leave 
Barrani two days later than Lukin, and reach Auger in 
after the Medean pass had been secured. This would 
have concentrated the whole force at Augerin, with its 
outposts on the south-eastern scarp of the Solium plateau, 
ready to make its final attack on the enemy's camp. 

The water difficulty became serious for Lukin as soon 
as he left Barrani. The first night a Roman cistern 
was found, which gave a fair supply. On the night of 
the loth the column bivouacked on the seashore, where 
the Roman wells were found to be silted up with sand, 
and had to be opened up by the engineers. On the nth 
Bagbag was reached, but the water proved scanty and 
infamous, much of it being too sulphurous to be drunk 
by men or beasts. The best that could be done was to 
dig new wells in the sand. On the morning ^ 
of the 1 2th Lukin was at Augerin, and that 
afternoon the ist and 4th South Africans made good 
the Medean pass without opposition, and were presently 
joined by the armoured cars. 

Now appeared an unexpected difficulty. The Roman 
cistern at the top of the Medean pass, which it had 


been hoped would provide water for the whole 
column, proved to be dry, as were the wells at Siwiat 
further along the ridge. This compelled General 
Peyton to revise his plan. Clearly, he could not send 
the second column by the same route as the first ; 
indeed, the water supply made it impossible for the first 
column in its entirety to continue on its original line. 
He therefore made a new disposition of his forces. 
Lukin was ordered to push along the top of the escarp- 
ment with the I St and 4th South Africans, the armoured 
cars, the Hong-Kong and Singapore Battery, and a 
company of the Australian Camel Corps. The rest of 
the infantry and the mounted troops were directed to 
proceed from Augerin along the coast to the foot of the 
Halfaia pass. Lukin's force carried their water in 
" fantasies '* on camels, and their total supply, which 
had to last for forty-eight hours, was limited to eight 
pints per man. 

The movement began on the 13th. At midnight 
Lukin was four miles from the Halfaia, the rest of the 
infantry at Alim Tejdid, and the cavalry at Ragbag. At 
daybreak on the 14th the armoured cars moved for- 
ward to the Halfaia pass, which they occupied without 
opposition. At 9 a.m. we learned that the enemy had 
evacuated Solium the previous evening and was retiring 
to the south-west. There was now no obstacle in front 
^ of the two columns, and the mounted troops 

^' joined Lukin on the high ground. Next day, 
15th March, General Peyton entered Solium. 

As soon as the news of the enemy's evacuation 
reached Lukin, he dispatched the Duke of Westminster 
with the armoured cars in pursuit. The battery con- 


sisted of nine cars and one open Ford car mounting a 
machine gun, and the total personnel was only thirty-two. 
They made for the enemy's camp at Bir Warr, where a 
straggler was captured, who was afterwards to prove a 
most valuable prize. Dashing along the Tabruk road, 
which runs westward into the Libyan desert, they came 
presently upon the debris of the retreat. After 23 miles 
had been covered, the leading cars, as they turned a bend 
in the road, came suddenly in view of the enemy's camp 
at the Bir Asisa well a few hundred yards to the south. 
The camels were standing loaded, one ten-pounder and 
two machine guns were in position, and the enemy masses 
were just beginning to move. The battery swung into 
line and charged. Their machine guns silenced the 
Turkish guns, and the shells from the ten-pounder 
burst far behind them. The Senussi were surprised 
and wholly demoralized. Most of them flung down 
their rifles and fled. To prevent the escape of the supply 
train some 50 camels already on the move were shot — 
in several cases with extraordinary results, for the 
unhappy beasts were laden with petrol and bombs, and 
blew up under our fire with terrific explosions. At 
least 50 of the enemy were killed, 40 prisoners were 
taken, including 3 Turkish officers, and all the Senussi 
guns and much of the supplies were captured. The 
British loss in this brilliant aff'air was one officer slightly 

The final exploit in the campaign fell also to the 
credit of the armoured cars, and the war has shown 
few more romantic incidents. It will be remembered 
that the previous November the survivors from the Tar a 
and Moorina had been taken prisoner by Arabs and 


moved into the interior. By a coincidence which would 
scarcely be credited in a work of fiction, the man cap- 
tured at Bir Warr proved to have been employed as one 
of the guards of the prisoners, and disclosed their 
whereabouts. The place was 75 miles west of Solium, 
and with General Peyton's consent, the Duke of West- 
^ minster set out on the morning of the 17th 

''to their rescue. He had with him, besides 
his cars, a number of motor ambulances. The guide 
proved faithful, and after a journey of 120 miles over 
featureless desert the prisoners' camp was found at a 
place called the Hidden Spring. The men were naked 
skeletons, and no language can describe their amazement 
and joy at this miraculous rescue. By the morning of the 
1 8th the cars with the released captives were safely back 
at Solium, having travelled in 24 hours some 300 miles. 
It was an enterprise which in normal times would have 
been considered to belong rather to the realms of wild 
romance than to the sober chances of war, and it did 
signal credit to the intrepidity and resource of its origi- 
nator. In the words of Sir John Maxwell's dispatch, 
" to lead his cars through perfectly unknown country 
against an enemy of unknown strength was a feat which 
demanded great resolution, and which should not be 
forgotten even in this war, where deeds of rare daring 
are of daily occurrence." * 

So ended the first invasion of Egypt from the 
west since the Fatimite attempt of the tenth century. 
The occupation of Solium and the achievement of the 

♦ The Duke of Westminster received the Distinguished Service 
Order : he was recommended for the Victoria Cross. 


armoured cars put an end to the menace from the 
Senussi. In less than a month General Peyton had driven 
the enemy back 150 miles, had scattered his forces be- 
yond the frontier, had captured his commander and 
taken all his guns. If Germany hoped to make of the 
Arabs and Bedouin of the Tripoli hinterland a fanatical 
horde which would sweep to the gates of Cairo, she 
had wholly misjudged their temper. To build up 
armies from such material was like an attempt to make 
ropes of desert sand. Thereafter hostilities degenerated 
into frontier brigandage and police patrols. A year 
later the Grand Senussi, who had been living in the 
Siwa oasis, made an attempt to shift his quarters. 
Major- General Watson, who then commanded the 
Western Frontier Force, sent a column of armoured 
cars, which on February 3, 1917, broke up his camp, 
drove him into the outer deserts, and destroyed for 
good any little military prestige that remained to him. 
The main problem left to the British Government was 
that of feeding the starving tribes, for the futile war 
had prevented the raising of the usual barley crop. 
After our humane fashion we beat the enemy and fed 
his belongings. 

On the afternoon of i6th March a parade of all arms 
was held in Solium, and General Peyton thanked his 
men for the victory which they had won. On 28th 
March the South African Brigade began its return 
journey by sea to Alexandria, and on its arrival there 
was joined by a draft of 8 officers and 400 other ranks, 
under the command of Captain L. W. Tomlinson. On 
loth April it was inspected by Sir Archibald Murray, 
the G.O.C. of the Forces in Egypt, and next day it 


received orders to embark for Marseilles. The three 
- ., months in North Africa had given it its first 

^ ' field training in war, and it had emerged with 

increased physical and moral strength from the trial. 
The difficult weather, when hailstorms and great cold 
were diversified with long spells of scorching heat, and 
the weary and waterless desert marches, had toughened 
the fibre of every soldier. It was fortunate that the 
Brigade had such a preparation, for it was about to take 
its place in a classic division on the Western Front, and 
to enter one of the most desperate struggles of the 



(April- July 1916.) 

The Brigade reaches Flanders and joins the 9th Division — ^The 
Position of the Campaign in the Spring of 19 16 — First Ex- 
perience in the Trenches — ^The Move to the Somme — ^The 
Purpose of the Battle of the Somme — Successes of the First 
Day — ^The Brigade enters the Line at Bernafay Wood — ^The 
4th Regiment engaged in Trones Wood — Death of Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel F. A. Jones — ^The British Attack of 14th July — 
Longueval and Delville Wood — ^The South Africans' Attack on 
Delville — ^The Critical Fourth Day — Colonel Thackeray at last 
relieved — ^The Losses of the Brigade — The Magnitude of the 
South African Performance. 

THE transports Meganttc, Oriana, Scotian, and Tinto- 
retto, carrying the Brigade, left Alexandria between 
the 13th and 15th of April, and reached Marseilles 
during the night of the 19th, about the same time as 
the Russian division dispatched to the aid of France 
from Vladivostok. Owing to a case of contagious sick- 
ness on board the Oriana, the 4th Regiment and part 
of the I St were placed in quarantine, while the remainder 
of the troops entrained at once for Flanders. Steen- 
werck was reached on the morning of the 23rd, and 
the 2nd and 3rd Regiments marched to their billeting 
area along roads wholly under water. It ^ .» 
was the first sight which the South Africans 
had of the delectable land in which for four years the 



British Army made war. Headquarters were estab- 
lished at Bailleul, and the Brigade was attached to the 
9th (Scottish) Division, under Major-General W. T. 
Furse. For three weeks detachments of the two regi- 
ments took their place in the trenches for instruction, 
and on nth May the 4th Regiment and the rest of the 
I St arrived from their quarantine at Marseilles. On 
14th May the 28th Brigade of the 9th Division dis- 
appeared, being absorbed in other divisions, and the 
South African Brigade took its place in the fighting 
unit to whose glory it was so worthily to contribute.* 

The 9th Division belonged to the ** First Hundred 
Thousand " of the New Army, and at the start was 
wholly Scottish. The famous Scottish battalions of the 
old regulars had drawn their men from every quarter 
of Britain ; but the 9th Division had few in its ranks 
who did not hail from north of the Tweed. It had 
already made a name for itself at Loos, where, under 
Major-General George Thesiger, who fell in the battle, 
it had captured the Hohenzollern Redoubt and the ill- 
omened Fosse 8, and held the latter till it was utterly 
outflanked. It had fought in the toughest part of the 
whole line, and all the troops, Highland and Lowland, 
had borne themselves Uke veterans. The division had 
spent the winter in the Ypres salient as part of Sir 
Herbert Plumer's Second Army, and during the spring 

♦ The 9th Division was now composed of the 26th Infantry 
Brigade, comprising the 8th Black Watch, the 7th Seaforths, the 5th 
Camerons, and the loth Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders ; the 
27th Infantry Brigade, comprising the nth Royal Scots, the 12th 
Royal Scots, the 6th K.O.S.B. and the 9th Scottish Rifles ; and the 
South African Infantry Brigade. The Pioneer Battalion was the 
9th Seaforths. 

THE SPRING OF 1916. 45 

had occupied the front around Armentieres. It was a 
proof of the respect in which the South African Brigade 
was held by the British Command that it should be 
made part of so notable a division ; and it was not 
less fortunate for the 9th Division that it received a 
brigade so competent to sustain its record. 

The April of 191 6 was a critical month in the Western 
campaign. On the 9th the first and deadliest stage of 
the German assault on Verdun had closed with the 
failure of the attackers. Petain's thin lines had held 
their ground ; the little city was still inviolate ; and, 
though France had lost terribly, she had wrecked the 
plans of her enemy, inflicted upon him irreparable loss, 
and by her heroism won that quiet confidence which is 
the surest guarantee of victory. When the Imperial 
Crown Prince opened the battle, one part of his purpose 
had been to induce a British counter-offensive. That 
counter-offensive did not come, for General Joffre did 
not desire it. He preferred to wait until Germany had 
spent her strength, and to use the armies of France and 
Britain in a great movement against a weakened foe. 
Our task, therefore, during the first months of 191 6 
had been to wait. The duty had been costly, for on 
our front the average daily toll of loss in trench fighting 
was not far from 1,000. It was a difficult time, for 
there was no great objective to quicken the spirit, and 
those indeterminate months imposed a heavy strain upon 
the moral of our troops. Yet the apparent stagnation 
was not without its advantage, for it gave the new British 
Commander-in-Chief time to complete his field army 
and perfect its education. When Sir Douglas Haig took 
over the supreme command he set himself to the work 


which Sir John Moore had undertaken more than a 
century before. He had to train his men for a new 
kind of warfare, and the whole British front became 
one vast seminary. To quote from his dispatch at this 
date : ** During the periods of reUef all formations, and 
especially the newly-created ones, are instructed and 
practised in all classes of the present and other phases 
of warfare. A large number of schools also exist for 
the instruction of individuals, especially in the use and 
theory of the less familiar weapons, such as bombs and 
grenades. There are schools for young staff officers, and 
regimental officers, for candidates for commissions, etc. 
In short, every effort is made to take advantage of the 
closer contact with actual warfare, and to put the finish- 
ing touches, often after actual experience in the trenches, 
to the training received at home.'' 

Moreover, during these months of waiting our 
strength in munitionment had grown beyond belief. 
The Allied offensives of 19 15 had failed largely because 
there was no sufficient weight of shells and guns behind 
them. But by June of 191 6 Britain was manufacturing 
and issuing to the Western front weekly as much as 
her whole pre-war stock of land service munitions. In 
heavy guns the output in the year had increased six- 
fold. The weekly production of machine guns had in- 
creased fourteen-fold, and of rifles three-fold — wholly 
from home sources. In small-arm ammunition the out- 
put was three times as great, and large reserve stocks 
had been accumulated. The production of high ex- 
plosives was sixty-six times what it had been in the 
beginning of 1915, and the supply of bombs for trench 
warfare had been multiplied by thirty-three. At last 





C/3 ^ 

O -^ 

U g 


o -^ 

-O r£3 CO 

5 i> M 

53 o 0) 
C3 (fl O 

^ §5 
Q ^'^ 

aT d 
• o O 

^ o^ 

-t-> 0) 


;=^ " c! 
* a) 

^ "^ iN 

-a H. 

O ^ Os 
« <U 4) 

}!« (-■ V 



we were providing a machine which would put our 
infantry on equal terms with the enemy. 

The South African Brigade was inspected on 29th 
April by Sir Douglas Haig, and on 4th May by Sir 
Herbert Plumer. The next two months were devoted 
to its initiation in the methods of trench warfare, which 
were wholly new to it. During May it held a portion 
of the front line, and on 4th June the whole Brigade 
and the Field Ambulance moved into the Steenbecque 
and Morbecque training area. Battalion training was 
followed by skeleton Brigade training until 14th June, 
when orders were received for the division <y 
to move to the Somme. The Brigade was 
quartered in the neighbourhood of Ailly-sur- Somme, 
whence parties of officers and N.C.O.'s visited the front 
line in the Maricourt region. Meantime the 2nd and 
3rd Regiments were attached to the 30th Division, to 
assist in the work of preparation for the coming attack. 

Few men who were then in Picardy will ever forget 
that strange month before the great battle opened — ^the 
pleasant summer weather, the quiet of the front, the 
endless activity of the British hinterland, where every 
road was thronged with guns and transport, the curious 
breathless sense of expectation. On 23rd June the Bri- 
gade moved to Corbie and Sailly-le-Sec, where it 
was within a few miles of the line. Next morning, 
Saturday, the 24th, in grey, cloudy weather with flying 
showers of rain, the main bombardment opened. 

The South Africans, as they moved east from Corbie 
along the Picardy downs, beheld a landscape which, in 
the heat and dust of midsummer, must have recalled 
their own country. The Somme, with its acres of 


swamp and broad lagoons, was not unlike some river 
of the bushveld. The '' tawny ground," which Shakes- 
peare's Henry V. had summoned his men to colour 
with their blood, had something of the air of the high- 
veld — yellow-green ridges and slopes falling away to an 
infinite distance. As they topped the hill behind Meaulte 
and faced the long lift of land towards Bapaume, they 
had the kind of spectacle which is common enough 
beyond the Vaal. In the hollows around the water- 
courses was the light green of crops ; then a great 
stretch of unfenced country patched with woods, which 
were curiously clean-cut like the coppices in the park 
of a country house. It was such a view as a man may 
see from Haenertsberg, looking north towards the Wood- 
bush. The weather, too, was the soft, shimmering mist 
which one meets on the edge of the Berg. Our bom- 
bardment had only just begun, and the countryside was 
not yet devastated. Fricourt was still a pleasant wood- 
land village, Bernafay and Trones were as yet little 
forests, and the spire of Mametz church was more 
than a tooth of masonry. 

The story of the Battle of the Somme belongs 
to history written on a larger scale than this, for here 
we are concerned with only a part of it. But to under- 
stand that part it is necessary to grasp the purpose of 
the whole action. The enemy was suffering from a 
lack of immediate reserves, and the depression of 
moral due to his failure at Verdun and the recent suc- 
cesses of Brussilov in Galicia. He had boasted so loudly 
of his ** war map," and the amount of conquered terri- 
tory which he held, that he dared not resort to the ex- 


pedient of shortening his long line. He trusted to the 
great natural and artificial strength of his positions in 
the West to repel the Allies, whatever weight of men 
and guns might be brought against him. In no part of 
the Western front were these positions stronger than 
between Arras and the Somme, where he held in the 
main the higher ground, and had in the rear many forti- 
fied woods and villages which could be linked together 
into reserve lines. 

The Allies had learned the lesson of the futile offen- 
sives of 191 5, and of the long-drawn contest at Verdun. 
They no longer dreamed of breaking the enemy's front 
by a sudden bound, for they realized the depth of his 
fortified zone. They had accepted the principle that 
an attack should proceed by stages, with, as a prelim- 
inary to each, an elaborate artillery *' preparation ; *' 
and they realized, too, that, since the struggle must 
be protracted, fresh troops must be used for each stage. 
Their new plan was simply attrition on a colossal scale. 
It was like the mighty head of water which hydraulic 
engineers apply to a mountain in order to wash it away. 
The governing idea was not a breach in the front, though 
that might come incidentally, but such a steady, unre- 
lenting pressure as would first cripple and then destroy 
the enemy's machine. Their method was that of ** lim- 
ited objectives," with new troops and a new bombard- 
ment for each phase, and they had certain tactical de- 
vices in reserve which they hoped to apply with good 
effect at the right moment. To quote what I have 
written elsewhere, the scheme might be suggested by 
the metaphor of a sea-dyke of stone in a flat country 
where all stone must be imported. ** The waters 


crumble the wall in one section, and the free reserves 
of stone are used to strengthen that part. But the 
crumbling goes on, and to fill the breach stones are 
brought from other sections of the dyke. Some day 
there must come an hour when the sea will wash through 
the old breach, and a great length of the weakened dyke 
will follow in the cataclysm.'* This method of attrition 
presupposed the continuance of the war on two fronts. 
When Russia fell out of line the situation was utterly 
changed, and the plan became futile against an enemy 
with a large new reservoir of recruitment. But at the 
time of its inception, uninspired and expensive as it was, 
it was a sound plan, and ceteris paribus would have given 
the Allies victory before the end of 19 17. Even as 
things turned out, in spite of the unlooked-for debacle 
in the East, the Battle of the Somme struck a blow at 
the heart of Germany's strength from which she never 
wholly recovered. 

A strategy of active attrition demands a battle, and 
a battle requires certain definite objectives. Our aim 
was to crumble the enemy's defences on the Bapaume 
Ridge so completely that he could not find an alter- 
nate position of equal strength, and would be slowly 
forced into open warfare. The British front of attack 
was from Gommecourt in the north to Maricourt in 
the south, whence the French carried the battle across 
the Somme to a point opposite the village of Fay. It 
was Sir Douglas Haig's intention to make his main 
attack between the Ancre and Maricourt, and it is clear 
from his dispatch that he regarded the movement of his 
left wing as a subsidiary operation. The final cam- 
paign of 19 1 8 proved that in this he judged wrongly, 


and that the Bapaume Ridge was most vulnerable to 
a flanking attack from the north. The effort of the 
British left on the first day failed, and thereafter the 
battle became a stubborn frontal attack up the slopes 
from the west. The enemy's fortress was assaulted on 
its most formidable side, and when after six months 
he admitted defeat and fell back, he yielded not to any 
strategical brilliance in our plan, but to the incompar- 
able valour and tenacity of the Allied troops. 

On 30th June, the day before the battle began, the 
South African Brigade, comprising the four infantry 
battaUons, the 64th Field Company R.E., the 28th 
Brigade M.G. Company, and the South African Brigade 
Trench Mortar Battery, moved to Grove Town, a large 
dump on the outskirts of Bray, the 9th Division being 
in general reserve to Sir Walter Congreve's XIII. Corps. 
That night the weather suddenly cleared to a blue mid- 
summer evening. Next morning, Saturday, ist July, 
at half-past seven, under a cloudless and cy 7 
windless sky, the AUied infantry went over 
the parapets, and the battle began. 

The result of that day was that the German first 
line was carried almost everywhere from the Ancre 
southward. In no part of the field was the success 
more notable than in the area of Congreve's XIII. 
Corps, which took Montauban, and came to the edge 
of Bernafay Wood. For the next few days, while our 
centre was struggling for Ovillers and Contalmaison, 
Congreve, on the British right wing, working in co- 
operation with the French, was endeavouring to clear 
the woods of Trones and Bernafay, which intervened 
between the first and second German positions. Ber- 


nafay soon fell ; but Trones Wood, being commanded 
from the south by the Maltzhorn Ridge and from the 
north by the German position at Longueval, was a 
hard nut to crack, and though we took most of it, we 
could not hold it. The place became a Tom Tiddler's 
ground, which neither side could fully claim, since it 
was at the mercy of both the British and German artil- 
lery fire. That was the position by the 13th of July, 
when the capture of Contalmaison allowed Sir Douglas 
Haig to begin the second stage of the action. 

Meantime the South Africans had entered the 
fringes of the battle. On the night of 2nd July the 
Brigade moved forward to Billon Valley to relieve the 
27th Brigade, which was advancing into the line. On 
4th July General Furse ordered Lukin to rcHeve the 
2 1 St Brigade in divisional reserve, and the 89th Brigade 
in the Glatz sector of the front.* This relief was com- 
<v 7 pleted by 3.15 a.m. on the morning of 5th 

July. The position now was that the ist 
and 4th South Africans held the line from the junction 
with the French to Briqueterie Trench east of Mon- 
tauban, the 2nd South Africans were in divisional re- 
serve at Talus Boise, and the 3rd South Africans were 
in support in the old British and German front-Hne 
trenches immediately to the north-west of Maricourt. 

The first experience of the South Africans in the 
battle was the difficult task of holding a piece of cap- 
tured front in the face of heavy enemy shelling. The 
27th Brigade had cleared Bernafay Wood on the night 
of the 4th, and during the following days the French 

* Both of these brigades belonged to Major-General Shea's 
30th Division. 


(General Nourrisson's 39th Division of the famous XX. 
Corps*) were assiduously attacking towards Maltzhorn 
Farm, while the British right division, the 30th, was 
labouring to secure the wood of Trones. The South 
Africans were stationary except for the contingent which, 
as we shall see, assisted the 30th Division in Trones 
Wood. Their position was uncomfortable, for they 
were close to the angle of our front, where it bent south- 
ward, and were thus exposed to sniping and gun-fire 
from both front and flank. On the 5th General Lukin 
began those faithful pilgrimages along the front-line 
trenches which from the first marked him out among 
brigade commanders. He was on his feet that day for 
no less than fifteen hours. Next day, the 6th, there 
was a great shelling, and the two South African regi- 
ments suffered some twenty casualties, among the killed 
being Lieutenant Oughterson at Glatz Redoubt, and 
Lieutenant W. N. Brown in Chimney Trench. On the 
7th the shelHng continued, and that afternoon, in pour- 
ing rain, the relief began of the ist South Africans by 
the 1 8th Manchesters of the 21st Brigade. That even- 
ing came the preliminary orders from General Head- 
quarters for the second stage of the battle, which for 
the 9th Division was an attack upon the German line at 

At dawn on the 8th the only South Africans in the 
line were the 4th Regiment, holding the Briqueterie 
Trench and the section from DubUn Trench to Dublin 
Redoubt. The 2nd Regiment, which had been in 

* The XX. Corps held the Grand Couronne of Nancy in Sep- 
tember 19 14, and delivered the counter-attack at Douaumont on 
February 26, 1916, which turned the tide at Verdun. 


reserve at Talus Boise, was ordered to relieve the 12th 
Royal Scots and the 6th K.O.S.B. of the 27th Brigade, 
which were holding a portion of Bernafay Wood. ** A " 
and " C " Companies were detailed for the task, and 
the following day they were joined by *^ D " Company. 
During the loth these companies of the 2nd South 
Africans were replaced by two companies of the 4th. 
The 2nd during its short time in the line was most 
severely shelled, and incurred some 200 casualties, in- 
cluding Captain H. E. Clifford and Lieutenants C. L. 
H. Mulcahy, L. Greene, and B. N. Macfarlane, the 
first two dying of their wounds. 

The 4th Regiment, now the only part of the Brigade 
in the line, was about to be drawn into the fight for 
Trones Wood, where the 30th Division had made a 
lodgment on Saturday, the 8th. There were heavy 
counter-attacks all through the Sunday, and on Mon- 
ey 7 day, the loth, an attack was ordered to 
July 10. , -^^ , , ' ^ , , 
clear the place. At 11 p.m., on the 9th, 

" A '' Company of the 4th was sent to support the 
90th Brigade, a platoon was dispatched to the garrison 
of the Briqueterie, and the 3rd Regiment was held in 
reserve at the disposal of the 30th Division. At dawn 
on the loth came the attack, and troops of the 30th 
Division, together with " A " Company of the 4th 
South Africans, advanced through the southern half 
of the wood, and reported it clear of the enemy. But 
it could not be held. The half-moon of German artil- 
lery positions around it made communication with our 
rear too perilous, and the denseness of the covert, cut 
only by the railway clearings and the German com- 
munication trenches, rendered organized movement 

Lieutenant-Colonel F. A. JONES, C.M.G., D.S.O., 

Commanding 4th Regiment, South African Infantry. Killed at 

Bernafay Wood, nth July 19 16. 


impossible within it. In the afternoon a German 
counter-attack lost us most of our gains, and the com- 
pany of the 4th, when it returned to its trenches, was 
subjected to a desperate shelUng, in which its com- 
mander, Captain Russell, was mortally wounded. 

On the nth the fighting in Trones continued, and 
the 4th South Africans, whose '* A " and " C " Com- 
panies were in the neighbourhood of Glatz <y /^ ^^ 
Redoubt, and whose headquarters and " B '* 
and " D " Companies were in Bernafay Wood, came 
under the barrage with which the enemy prepared his 
counter-attacks. That day the Brigade suffered a griev- 
ous loss in the death from a shell-splinter of Lieutenant- 
Colonel F. A. Jones, the commanding officer of the 
4th Regiment. He had served in the old South African 
War with the Welsh Regiment, and won the D.S.O., 
and in German South- West Africa had been Brigade 
major to Colonel Beves, commanding the ist Infantry 
Brigade. ** Fatty " Jones was beloved throughout the 
contingent for his gay and imperturbable temper, his 
ready humour, and his complete coolness and gallantry. 
It was a tragic fate which cut him off on the eve of a 
battle for which his whole life had been a preparation. 
The command of the 4th Regiment now passed to Major 
D. M. MacLeod. 

On the 13th orders were issued for the attack on 
the German second line, and the 4th Regiment was 
relieved by the 2nd Royal West Surreys and the 7th 
Middlesex of the 55th Brigade in the i8th Division. 
That evening the whole South African Brigade was 
concentrated at Talus Boise as the reserve brigade of 
the 9th Division. Its week in the front line had been 


costly. In the ist Regiment there were 50 casuakies, 
in the 2nd 205, in the 3rd 91, and in the 4th 191, and 
these included 7 officers killed and 9 wounded. Almost 
all the losses were from shell-fire, and the severity of 
the German bombardment may be gathered from the 
fact that the 3rd Regiment, which was in the support 
trenches, had 91 losses, mainly among its working and 
carrying parties. 

In the cloudy dawn of Friday, the 14th of July, 
Haig launched his attack against a section of the Ger- 
^7 man second position — ^the four miles of 

front from a point south-east of Pozieres to 
Longueval and Delville Wood. It was the business of 
Congreve's XIII . Corps to take Bazentin-le- Grand, 
Longueval, and Delville Wood, and to clear Trones 
Wood and form a defensive flank. The result of the 
day was that we carried all our objectives from Bazentin- 
le-Petit to Longueval, a front of over three miles, and 
at one moment had all but penetrated the enemy third 
position at High Wood. Here we are concerned only 
with the British right flank, the attack of the 9th Divi- 
sion against Longueval, and of the i8th Division, under 
Major-General Ivor Maxse, on its right at Trones Wood. 

This section was beyond doubt the most difficult in 
the battle-front. To begin with, we were fighting in a 
salient, and our attack was under fire from three sides. 
This enabled the enemy to embarrass seriously our 
communications during the action. In the second place, 
the actual ground of attack presented an intricate prob- 
lem. The land sloped upwards from Bernafay and 
Trones Wood to Longueval village, which was shaped 
like an inverted fan, broad at the south end, where the 

"a . 


houses clustered about the junction of two roads, and 
straggling out to the north-east along the highway to 
Flers. Scattered among the dwellings were many little 
enclosed gardens and orchards. To the east and north- 
east of the hamlet stretched the wood of Delville, in 
the shape of a blunt eqi^ilateral triangle, with an apex 
pointing northward. The place, like most French woods, 
had been seamed with grassy rides, partly obscured by 
scrub, and the Germans had dug lines of trenches along 
and athwart them. It had been for some days a target 
for our guns, and was now a mass of splintered tree- 
trunks, matted undergrowth, and shell-holes. The main 
German positions were to the north, north-east, and 
south-east, at a distance of from 50 to 200 yards from 
its perimeter, where they had strong entrenchments 
manned by machine guns. It was Sir Douglas Haig's 
aim to carry Longueval, and make it the flanking but- 
tress of his new line, from which a defensive flank could 
be formed running south-east to the junction with the 
French. But it was obvious that the whole of Longue- 
val could not be held unless Delville were also taken, 
for the northern part, where the road cHmbed towards 
Flers, was commanded by the wood. Nothing short of 
the whole village would make an adequate pivot ; and, 
with the wood still in German hands, there would be no 
good leaping-off ground from which to press outward 
in the direction of Ginchy and Guillemont. 

The attack on Longueval on the morning of the 
14th was entrusted to the 26th Brigade of the 9th Divi- 
sion — the 8th Black Watch and the loth Argyll and 
Sutherlands leading, the 9th Seaforths in support, and 
the 5th Camerons in reserve. The 27th Brigade moved 


behind them to " clean up," and the intention of Gen- 
eral Congreve was that day to make good Longueval 
and also Delville Wood, if the latter should prove practi- 
cable — ^ heavy task for tv^o brigades. Shortly after dawn 
Lukin received orders to put a battalion at the disposal 
of the 27th Brigade to assist in clearing the Longueval 
streets, and the ist Regiment was sent forward for the 
purpose. The 3rd Regiment was also allotted to the 
26th Brigade, but this order was subsequently cancelled. 
The assault of the Highlanders was a most gallant 
performance. They rushed the trenches outside the 
village, and entered the streets, where desperate hand- 
to-hand fighting took place among the houses, for the 
enemy made a resolute defence. Before noon all the 
west and south-west part of Longueval was in our 
hands ; but it had become clear that the place in its 
entirety could not be held, even if won, until Delville 
Wood was cleared. At i p.m. General Furse informed 
Lukin that, as soon as the other two brigades had taken 
Longueval, the South Africans should capture and con- 
solidate the outer edge of Delville Wood. For this 
purpose the whole of the Brigade was available with 
the exception of the ist Regiment. Lukin thereupon 
drew up his orders for the operation. The first hour 
suggested for the attack was 5 p.m. that afternoon ; 
the time was later changed to 7 p.m., and then to 7.30 
p.m. ; but owing to the fact that the village was not 
entirely captured these orders were suspended. A staff 
officer of the Brigade, Lieutenant Roseby, was sent for- 
ward to ascertain the position in Longueval ; and from 
his report it was apparent that the northern part was 
not in our hands, and that, consequently, it would be 

W 5 

> -2 


impossible to form up on a line west of Longueval and 
advance to the attack from that direction. At a con- 
ference with General Furse at Montauban that evening 
it was arranged that the attack should take place at 5 a.m. 
on the following morning. The orders were that the 
wood was to be taken at all costs, and that the advance 
was to proceed, even if the 26th and 27th Brigades 
failed to capture the northern part of the village. 

Lukin called together his battalion commanders and 
gave them instructions. These were that if, on arrival 
at Longueval, they found the northern part still held 
by the enemy, they should attack Delville from the 
south-west corner, moving forward on a one-battalion 
front. To the 2nd and 3rd Regiments, the latter 
leading, was entrusted the assault, with the 4th Regi- 
ment in support. Meantime during that day the ist 
Regiment, under Lieutenant- Colonel Dawson, had been 
heavily engaged in Longueval. At 2 p.m. it had de- 
ployed along the line held by the two Scottish brigades, 
having been brought through a severe artillery fire in 
eight lines of sections in file without a single casualty. 
Its business was to attack the remainder of the village, 
and its leading companies, " A " and " B," reached 
their first objectives about four o'clock, but were unable 
to advance owing to the machine-gun fire from front 
and flank. During the night three parties — under Lieu- 
tenants Burgess, Henry, and Bate — ^were sent out to 
capture the enemy posts which were checking the 
advance, and found that the whole village in its northern 
part was a nest of machine guns. On the morning of 
the 15th, after the other three regiments had started for 
Delville Wood, the ist returned to Lukin 's command. 


Two hours before dawn the three other regiments 
of the Brigade had moved forward from Montauban. 
iv T It was a cloudy morning, but as the sun rose 

the sky lightened above the Bapaume Ridge, 
and men noticed amid the punctual shelling how small 
birds still sang in the ruined coverts, and larks rose 
from the battered ridges. Before them on their right 
front lay the shadow which was Delville Wood, and 
the jumbled masonry, now spouting like a volcano, which 
had been the hamlet of Longueval. On the way orders 
came from the division to put two companies at the 
disposal of the 26th Brigade in Longueval, and accord- 
ingly *' B " and '' C " Companies of the supporting 
battalion, the 4th, were instructed to report to the officer 
commanding the 5th Camerons there. The rest of the 
Brigade, under Lieutenant- Colonel Tanner, who was in 
charge of the attack, moved over the broken ground 
under heavy fire till they were close on the southern 
edge of the village. 

It was Tanner's first business to find out the situa- 
tion. His patrols reported that the Germans still held 
the northern part of Longueval and all the wood adjoin- 
ing the streets, but that the position in the rest of the 
wood was obscure. Some of the 5th Camerons were 
holding a trench running into Delville from the south- 
west corner, and in rear of this trench the 2nd and 3rd 
Regiments assembled about six o'clock. In such a 
posture of affairs, Lukin's instructions had been to 
attack the wood from the south-west. As the coming 
action was fought in a narrow area where the smallest 
landmark had its importance, it is necessary to under- 
stand the nature of the place. From the road junction 

Brigadier-General W. E. C. TANNER, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O. 

Commanding 2nd South African Regiment, and later South 
African Brigade. 


in Longiieval there ran nearly due east a long ride 
which our men called Princes Street. Subsidiary rides 
branched off it to the north and south extending to the 
perimeter ; these were in order from west to east, 
on the north side the Strand, Regent Street, and Bond 
Street ; and on the south side Buchanan Street, Campbell 
Street, and King Street — an odd mixture of the nomen- 
clature of London and Glasgow. Another ride, parallel 
to Princes Street and about half-way between it and 
the southern edge, ran from Buchanan Street to the 
eastern perimeter, and was named Rotten Row. Tanner 
decided to occupy the wood by first clearing the southern 
part — ^that is, the area south of Princes Street — and then 
pushing north from Princes Street, and occupying the 
Strand and the perimeter from its northern end round 
to the south-west corner. This would give him the 
whole of Delville except the north-west corner, which 
abutted on the uncaptured part of Longueval village. 

At first the attack moved swiftly. By seven o'clock 
the 3rd South Africans, supported by one company of 
the 2nd, held everything south of Princes Street. There- 
upon Tanner sent the remaining three companies of 
the 2nd to occupy the Strand and the northern 
perimeter. This proved to be a heavy undertaking. 
The three weak companies reached their objective, and 
found themselves compelled to hold a front of some 
1,300 yards on which it was almost impossible to main- 
tain connection. They were well supplied with shovels, 
and did their best to dig themselves in and wire the 
ground they had won ; but as soon as they reached 
the edge the whole wood was violently shelled by the 
enemy, while machine-gun and rifle fire broke out 


from the strong German lines around the perimeter. 
Meantime, in the southern and eastern parts, two patrols 
of the 3rd Regiment, under the command of Captains 
Medlicott and Tomlinson, had managed to get to close 
quarters with the enemy, and had captured three officers, 
135 other ranks, and a machine gun. 

At 2.40 p.m. Tanner reported to Lukin that he had 
won the whole wood with the exception of strong points 
in the north-west abutting on Longueval and the northern 
orchards. He had succeeded brilliantly in the first part 
of his task, but the problem of Delville was far less to 
carry the wood than to hold it. Lukin's plan had been 
to thin out the troops in the wood as soon as the peri- 
meter was reached, leaving it to be held by small in- 
fantry detachments with machine guns. But now came 
the enemy's counter-attack which made this plan im- 
possible, for every available man was needed to resist 
the German pressure. About three o'clock elements of 
the 6th Bavarian Regiment of the loth Bavarian Divi- 
sion attacked in force from the east, but were driven 
back by rifle-fire. At 4.40 p.m. Tanner reported that 
the enemy was also massing for an attack at the northern 
end, and at 6.30 he again reported an enemy concen- 
tration to the north and north-east. He informed 
Lukin that his casualties had been heavy, one com- 
pany of the 2nd South Africans having virtually been 
destroyed, and he asked for reinforcements. He had 
already received a company of the 4th South Africans, 
and another company of that regiment was sent 
forward to reinforce the 3rd South Africans. The ist 
Regiment had now returned to Lukin's command, and 
one of its companies was dispatched to reinforce the 


2nd. At 7 p.m. Lukin sent a staff officer to obtain 
full details of the position in the wood. The officers 
commanding the 2nd and 3rd Regiments were urged to 
see that their battalions, in spite of their fatigue, dug 
themselves in, since heavy shell-fire might be expected 
on the morrow. This had already been done, for unless 
the men had been well dug in they could not have lived 
where they were. The officer commanding the ist 
Regiment was ordered to detail special carrying platoons 
to keep up the supply of ammunition, and to put up 
a Vickers and a Lewis gun at the south-west corner 
of the wood to command the southern edge. 

As the sun went down the activity of the enemy's 
guns increased, and the darkness of night was turned 
by shells and liquid fire into a feverish and blazing 
noon. The German rate of fire was often as high as 
400 shells a minute. The position that evening was as 
follows : — ^The north-west corner of the wood was in 
the enemy's hands. The north-east corner was held 
from left to right by one and a half companies of the 
2nd Regiment, with one company of the ist in support, 
and by one company of the 3rd Regiment, with one 
company of the 4th in support. The south-east corner 
was held by two companies of the 3rd Regiment. The 
southern face from left to right was held by one com- 
pany of the 2nd Regiment and by one company of the 
3rd, with one company of the 4th in support. A half 
company of the 2nd Regiment held the western third 
of Princes Street, with two companies of the ist form- 
ing a defensive flank on the side of the village. The 
headquarters of the 2nd and 3rd Regiments were at the 
junction of Buchanan Street and Princes Street. Machine 


guns were in position round the perimeter — four at the 
northern apex, four at the eastern end of the north- 
eastern face, and two in the eastern half of the southern 
face. It will be seen that twelve companies of infantry, 
now gravely weakened, were holding a wood little less 
than a mile square with a long, rambling perimeter — a 
wood on which every German battery was accurately 
ranged, and which was commanded at close quarters by 
a semicircle of German trenches. Moreover, since the 
enemy held the north-west corner, he had a covered 
way of approach into the place. The only reserves of 
the South African Brigade were one company of the ist 
Regiment and the two companies of the 4th which had 
been lent to the 26th Brigade, and were due to return 
the following morning. 

To complete the story of the day, we must record 
the doings of these two companies. On the 14th the 
1 8th Division had cleared Trones Wood, and estab- 
lished their line up to Maltzhorn Farm. They joined 
hands with the 9th Division just west of Waterlot Farm, 
where, in the ruined sugar factory, the enemy had a 
position of great strength. On the morning of the 15th 
the 5th Camerons were attacking this point, and the 
two companies of the South African Scottish were to 
be used as troops to follow and consolidate. Major 
Hunt, who was in charge of the companies, sent a 
platoon from each to occupy the trenches close to the 
farm, which they did under heavy fire from the con- 
cealed posts to the south and east. The farm was not 
taken till the following day, and the work of the South 
Africans was therefore less that of consolidation than 
of protecting the skirts of the Cameron attack under a 


heavy German barrage. About six in the evening an 
enemy force was detected coming from Guillemont, but 
this was checked by our artillery barrage. An hour 
later the two companies were ordered to fall back and 
construct a strong point, and at 2.30 on the morning of 
the 1 6th they were relieved by the Camerons and with- 
drawn to the sunken road behind Longueval. 

All through the furious night of the 15th the troops 
in Delville Wood were working for dear life at entrench- 
ments. At the time it was rumoured that the South 
Africans were a little negligent in digging, trusting rather 
to their courage and their marksmanship than to trenches. 
The criticism was unjust. No soldiers ever worked 
harder with the spade, but their task was nearly im- 
possible. In that hard soil, coagulated by incessant shell- 
fire, and cumbered with a twisted mass of roots, wire, 
and tree trunks, the spade could make little way. Never- 
theless, when the Sunday morning dawned, a good deal 
of cover had been provided. 

At 2.35 a.m. Lukin received orders from the 
division that at all costs the northern entrance into 
Longueval must be blocked, and that for this «v 7 ^■ 
purpose his Brigade must complete the cap- 
ture of the northern perimeter of the wood, and advance 
westward till they joined hands with the 27th Brigade. 
There was a lane called North Street, which was a 
continuation of the main street of Longueval from the 
point where the Flers Road branched off to the north- 
east. Between these roads lay an orchard, the tactical 
importance of which will be obvious from the map. 
The plan was for the 27th Brigade to push north through 
the village and capture that orchard and the other 

(2,0P7) 5 


enclosures east of North Street, and to join hands with 
the South Africans on the Flers Road. This was to be 
the work of the nth Royal Scots ; while two companies 
of the I St South Africans (those which, as has been 
already explained, had formed a defensive flank at the 
south-west corner of the wood) were to push north from 
the Princes Street line. The situation did not allow of 
a previous artillery bombardment ; but it was arranged 
that a " preparation '' by trench mortars should precede 
the infantry attack. 

The advance was made at ten on the Sunday morn- 
ing and failed completely, since the Royal Scots were 
held up in their area by a strongly- wired stone redoubt, 
and the South Africans by machine-gun fire from the 
ominous orchard between the two roads. It was then 
that Private W. F. Faulds of the ist Regiment won the 
first Victoria Cross which fell to the lot of the Brigade. 
Lieutenant Craig had attempted to reach a German 
trench with a bombing section, and had fallen severely 
wounded half-way between the lines. He was rescued 
by Private Faulds, who, along with Privates Baker and 
Estment, crossed the parapet in broad daylight under 
a drenching machine-gun and rifle fire. 

After this failure the attacking troops fell back to the 
trenches midway in the wood, and for the rest of the 
day had to endure a steady concentrated fire to which 
they had no means of eff^ective reply. It was hot, dusty 
weather, and the enemy's curtain of shells made it almost 
impossible to bring up food and water or to remove the 
many casualties. That afternoon Lieutenant- Colonel 
Dawson, commanding the ist Regiment, met Lukin in 
Longueval, and reported that his men were greatly ex- 

Lieutenant W. F. FAULDS, V.C, 

ist Regiment, South African Infantry, 


hausted. He asked for an early relief ; but Lukin could 
only repeat his divisional commander's instructions that 
at all costs the wood must be held. At the same time 
he was so impressed with the signs of strain and fatigue 
on the faces of the men that he submitted the matter 
to General Furse. The situation, indeed, was becom- 
ing desperate. Longueval and Delville had proved to 
be far too strongly held to be overrun at the first attack 
by one division. At the same time, until they were 
taken, the objectives of the battle of the 14th had not 
been achieved, and the stability of the whole right wing 
of our new front was endangered. Fresh troops could 
not yet be spared for the work, and the thing must be 
attempted again by the same weary and depleted batta- 
lions. It was a vicious circle. Longueval could not 
be won and held without Delville ; Delville could not 
be won and held without Longueval ; so what strength 
remained to the 9th Division had perforce to be divided 
between two simultaneous objectives. 

That Sunday evening it was decided to make another 
effort against the north-west corner next morning. At 
10.30 p.m. orders were received to withdraw all the 
infantry in Longueval village to a line south of Princes 
Street, and all infantry in the wood to the area east 
of the Strand, in order that the north-west corner of 
Delville and the north end of Longueval might be 
bombarded. The bombardment was to cease at 2 a.m. 
on the morning of Monday, the 17th, when the 27th 
Brigade and two companies of the ist South Africans 
were to repeat their attack of the Sunday. Lieutenant- 
Colonel Tanner, commanding in the wood, was in- 
structed to order the men of the 2nd Regiment, who 



were now holding the Strand, to move slowly forward 
so as to narrow the front of the ist Regiment attacking 
from Princes Street. 

The attack was made shortly before dawn, and did 
not succeed. Once again machine-gun fire from the 
fulv 17 ^^^^^ enclosures blocked any advance from 
west or south. The enemy, too, was in 
force just inside the angle of the wood. The 2nd South 
Africans, moving west from the Strand according to 
plan, met with a stubborn resistance, and were forced 
to fall back to their original position. 

That morning Lukin visited Delville and discussed 
the position with his commanding officers. He had 
now no troops which had not been in action for at 
least forty-eight hours. It was the most wearing kind 
of battle, for there was rarely a chance of getting to 
close quarters with the enemy. Now and then the 
brilliant marksmanship of the South Africans was given 
its opportunity ; but for the most part they had to wait 
under a continuous machine-gun and artillery fire, con- 
tending with a distant and impalpable foe. Their gen- 
eral was gravely concerned both at the fatigue of the 
men and the impossibility of making the wood anything 
but a death-trap. On his return to Brigade Headquarters 
he discussed the situation on the telephone with General 
Furse, but could get no hope of relief or reinforcements. 
General Congreve's instructions stood that Delville must 
be held at any cost. 

There was no change in the situation during the 
Monday afternoon. Lieutenant Roseby, the Brigade 
Intelligence Officer, was sent forward to get informa- 
tion, and was mortally wounded. During the evening 


Tanner was hit, and Lieutenant- Colonel Thackeray, 
commanding the 3rd Regiment, succeeded him in charge 
of the troops in the wood. That afternoon the news 
came that the 9th Division was drawing in its left flank, 
and that the 3rd Division, under Major- General Aylmer 
Haldane, was to attack Longueval that night from the 
west. About half-past seven Lukin received orders to 
take before the next dawn the enemy trench parallel 
to and 200 yards distant from the south-east edge of 
the wood. The perimeter facing this trench was held 
by two companies of the 3rd South Africans, and their 
commanding officer reported that the enemy trench 
before them was very strongly manned, and contained 
several machine guns. He added that he could not 
furnish more than 200 men for the attack without en- 
dangering the whole position. On receiving this news 
General Furse cancelled the operation. At half-past 
ten that night the Corps informed Lukin that as soon 
as the 3rd Division completed the occupation of the 
village they would establish machine guns on the north- 
west edge of the wood to protect his men. The attack 
was to take place at 5.45 a.m. on the i8th, and was to 
advance as far east as the Strand. 

During the night all available reinforcements were 
pushed up to the perimeter, where they had to face a 
strong enemy attack. In the southern area the Germans 
advanced as far as Buchanan Street and Princes Street, 
and drove the South Africans out of some of their new 
trenches. A counter-attack cleared the ground, but only 
at the cost of heavy casualties. At a quar- <y / o 
ter to four the 76th Brigade of the 3rd ^ -^ 
Division succeeded in obtaining a footing in the orchard 


between Flers Road and North Street. At eight 
in the morning Thackeray was ordered to send up 
patrols to get in touch with this brigade, and directed 
the company of the ist Regiment, then occupying the 
Strand and the western part of Princes Street, to move 
forward for the purpose. They were not seriously 
opposed, and presently they joined hands with the ist 
Gordons just west of the orchard. 

On that morning, the fourth of the battle, came the 
crisis for the defenders of Delville. The arrival of the 
company of the ist Regiment at the outskirts of the 
wood was the signal for the enemy to open a bombard- 
ment of unprecedented fury. Every part of the area 
was searched and smothered by shells, but the fire was 
most intense around the perimeter and down the Strand. 
Major Burges, the officer in command of the company, 
was wounded, and shortly afterwards killed. At the 
same time the 76th Brigade was driven in, and the 
Germans began to enter the wood on the exposed left 
flank of the South Africans. About nine o'clock an 
officer and fifty other ranks were dispatched as reinforce- 
ments. All through the morning the wearied handful, 
now rapidly thinning, held out as best they could. 
Their one relief was when the enemy came on to reap 
the fruits of his shelling, for then their admirable rifle- 
fire took heavy toll of him. 

About half-past two in the afternoon the position 
had become desperate. Lieutenant- Colonel Dawson 
was ordered to take forward as reliefs all the men 
available under his command — a total of 150 from the 
ist Regiment. These men had just been withdrawn 

Lieutenant-Colonel E. F. THACKERAY, C.M.G., D.S.O. 
Commanding 3rd South African Regiment. 


after having been continuously in action for four days ; 
they had had no rest ; but their one thought when they 
were ordered forward was to get to grips with the enemy. 
On arriving at Longueval Dawson placed his men in a 
trench at the south-east corner of the village, and went 
into the wood to find Thackeray. At the same time 
the men of the Trench Mortar Battery, numbering three 
officers and some eighty other ranks, under Lieutenant 
Phillips, were brought up from Montauban and placed 
at Daw^son's disposal. Dawson found Thackeray in 
serious straits. In many parts of the wood the garri- 
sons had been utterly destroyed, and everywhere north 
of Princes Street the few survivors had been forced 
back. Thackeray was now holding only the south- 
west corner, defined by Buchanan Street and the western 
part of Princes Street. The wounded filled the trenches, 
for it was impossible to remove them, since all the 
stretcher-bearers of the 3rd Regiment were casualties, 
and no men could be spared to take their places. Daw- 
son, acting under Lukin's instructions, did his best to 
cope with the situation. He sent Lieutenant Phillips 
and the Trench Mortar Battery men to reinforce Thac- 
keray, and through the division procured additional 
stretcher-bearers from the cavalry, in addition to those 
from the ist Regiment. 

At 6.5 p.m. that evening came the welcome intelli- 
gence that that night the South Africans would be 
relieved by the 26th Brigade. But a relief under such 
conditions was a slow and intricate business. By mid- 
night the work had been partially carried out, and por- 
tions of the two companies of the ist Regiment and the 
tv/o companies of the 4th were withdrawn. 

But, as at Flodden, when 

" they left the darkening heath 
More desperate grew the strife of death." 

The enemy had brought up a new division — the 8th of 
the 4th (Magdeburg) Corps — and made repeated attacks 
against the Buchanan Street Hne. For two days and 
two nights the Uttle remnant under Thackeray clung to 
the south-west corner of the wood against impossible 
odds, and did not break. The German method of assauk 
was to push forward bombers and snipers, and then to 
advance in massed formation simuhaneously from the 
north, north-east, and north-west. The three attacks 
on the night of the i8th were repelled with heavy losses 
to the enemy ; but in the last of them the South Africans 
were assaulted on three sides. Thackeray's adjutant. 
Captain M 'Donald, had been wounded, and he was left 
with only two officers — Lieutenant Garnet Green of the 
2nd and Lieutenant Phillips of the 3rd — to assist him, 
who, though wounded themselves, were able to keep 
on their feet. All through the 19th the gallant handful 
suffered incessant shelling and sniping, the latter now 
from very close quarters. It was the same on the 20th, 
but still relief tarried. At last, at six o'clock that even- 
ing, troops of the 76th Brigade in the 3rd Division were 
able to take over what was left to us of Longueval and 
the little segment of Delville Wood. Thackeray marched 
out with two officers, both of whom were wounded, and 
140 other ranks, made up of details from all the regi- 
cY 7 ments of the Brigade. He spent the night 

at Talus Boise, and next day joined the rest 
at Happy Valley. 


It is not easy to reproduce the circumstances of a 
battle so that a true impression may be made upon 
the minds of those who have not for themselves seen 
the reality of modern war. The six days and five 
nights during which the South African Brigade held the 
most difficult post on the British front — a corner of death 
on which the enemy fire was concentrated at all hours 
from three sides, and into which fresh German troops, 
vastly superior in numbers to the defence, made periodic 
incursions only to be broken and driven back — constitute 
an epoch of terror and glory scarcely equalled in the 
campaign. There were positions as difficult, but they 
were not held so long ; there were cases of as protracted 
a defence, but the assault was not so violent and con- 
tinuous. The closest parallel is to be found, perhaps, in 
some of the incidents at Verdun, and in the resistance 
of units of the old British regulars at the point of the 
Ypres salient in 1914 ; but even there we shall scarcely 
find an equal feat of tenacity, and certainly none superior. 
Delville Wood was not finally taken till the 25th of 
August, a month later, when the 14th Light Division 
cleared it for good. The high value set upon it by 
the enemy is proved by the fact that he used his 
best troops against it — successively the loth Bavarian 
Division, the 8th Division of the 4th Corps, and the 
5th of the 3rd Corps. The South Africans measured 
their strength against the flower of the German army, 
and did not draw back from the challenge. As a feat 
of human daring and fortitude the fight is worthy of 
eternal remembrance by South Africa and Britain, but 
no historian's pen can give that memory the sharp out- 
line and the glowing colour which it deserves. Onlv 


the sight of the place in the midst of the battle — ^that 
corner of splinters and churned earth and tortured 
humanity — could reveal the full epic of Delville Wood. 

Let us measure it by the stern register of losses. At 
midnight on 14th July, when Lukin received his orders, 
the Brigade numbered 121 officers and 3,032 men. 
When Thackeray marched out on the 20th he had a 
remnant of 143, and the total ultimately assembled in 
Happy Valley was about 750. The casualties were — for 
the ist Regiment, 558 ; for the 2nd, 482 ; for the 3rd, 
771 ; and for the 4th, 509. These figures included 23 
officers who were killed, 7 who died of wounds, 47 who 
were wounded, and 15 who were prisoners or missing. 
All the commissioned ranks of the 2nd and 3rd Regi- 
ments who were in the wood became casualties, as did 
all the officers of the Machine-Gun Company at- 
tached to the Brigade.* It is such a record as that of 
the ist Coldstream or the 2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers at 
First Ypres. But the price was not paid in vain. The 
Brigade did what it was ordered to do, and did not 
yield until it was withdrawn. 

I take two quotations from personal narratives which, 
better than any words of mine, reflect the grimness of 
the battle. One is from Private J. A. Lawson of the 
3rd Regiment. He is describing the fight of Tuesday, 
the 1 8th — ^the great German attack when the garrison 
was forced back to the south-west corner. That morn- 
ing Thackeray was holding the wood with nine and a 

* If we take the casualties from the ist of July, the total is 
2,815 — made up of 502 killed, 1,735 wounded, and 578 missing. 
Tanner, MacLeod, and Thackeray were all wounded. General 
Lukin was slightly gassed. 


half companies, a strength of about 1,500 men; two 

days later he had 140 ; so we may judge the fury of 

the conflict. 

" Our little party had to wait in their cramped position of 
tortured suspense till nearly 3 p.m. for the only relief we now 
looked for— the relief afforded by the excitement of desperate 
fighting against great odds. The enemy now launched an attack 
in overwhelming numbers, amid the continued roar of artillery. 
Once more they found us ready — a small party of utterly worn- 
out men, shaking off their sleep to stand up in the shallow trench. 
As the Huns came on they were mowed down — every shot must 
have told. Our rifles smoked and became unbearably hot ; but 
though the end seemed near, it was not yet. When the Huns 
wavered and broke, they were reinforced and came on again. We 
again prevailed, and drove them back. Only one Hun crossed 
our trench, to fall shot in the heart a few yards behind it. The 
lip of our trench told more plainly than words can how near they 
were to not failing. Beyond, in No Man's Land, we could do 
something to estimate the cost of their failure. . . . Exhaustion 
now did what shell-fire and counter-attacks had failed to do, and 
we collapsed in our trench, spent in body and at last worn out 
in spirit. The task we had been set was too great for us. What 
happened during the next two hours or so I do not know. Numbed 
in all my senses, I gazed vacantly into space, feeling as if the whole 
thing had been a ghastly nightmare, out of which I was now only 
awaiting complete deliverance. From this state of coma I was 
awakened by a shell which exploded just over me, and instantane- 
ously I passed into unconsciousness. When I regained conscious- 
ness a few minutes after, my first sensation was that of having 
been thoroughly refreshed by sleep. But on moving I found that 
the fight for me was over. ... I tried to rouse my friend, who 
had fallen face downward beside me. Getting no response, I 
Hfted his head, calling upon him by name, but I could not arouse 
him. I then began with pain and difficulty to walk down the 
line. I found that the last two hours of shelling had done their 
work — only six remained alive in the trench. I aroused one 
sleeper, and told him I had been badly hit, and was going to try 
and walk out. He faced me for a second, and asked me what 
he was to do. I said there was nothing to do but carry on, as 


the orders of Saturday morning had not been countermanded. 
His brave ' Right-o ! ' were the last words I heard there — surely 
fitting words as the curtain fell for me." 

The second quotation is from the late Captain Welsh, 
M.C., D.C.M., who was then a staff sergeant with the 
stretcher-bearers. The work of the Field Ambulance 
and of the regimental medical officers during these days 
deserved the highest praise, and it was due to their 
gallantry and resource that the sufferings of the men in 
the wood were not more horrible. The weather was 
now hot sun, now drenching rain, and the task of get- 
ting out the casualties was one long nightmare. 

" The road from Longueval to Bernafay Wood was in an in- 
describable condition. It was impossible to carry from the front 
of the Regimental Aid Posts in Longueval, owing to the sniping, 
which was at times very severe and accurate. The rear was a 
mass of ruins, wire entanglements, garden fences, fallen and falling 
trees, together with every description of debris and shattered build- 
ing material. It is one thing to clear a path along which rein- 
forcements may be brought, but quite another to make a track 
on which four men may carry a stretcher with a modicum of comfort 
to the patient. . . . Besides this road there was a narrow sunken 
lane, which at first afforded some safety, but later became so 
pitted with shell-holes that the bearers were compelled to take 
to the open. In addition to these difficulties, it must be remem- 
bered that these roads were shelled heavily day and night. At 
times the enemy would put up a barrage with heavy stuff, which 
meant that no stretcher-bearing could be done until the fire was 
over. Parties who were uiafortunate enough to be caught in one 
of these barrages spent moments of nerve-racking suspense, 
crouching in shell-holes or under banks, or wherever cover was 
available. One of the worst experiences of this kind was when it 
was decided to shell Longueval once more. Very short notice was 
given to clear all the Regimental Aid Posts, and only two men per 
stretcher could be spared. Padres, doctors, and odd men were 
pressed into service to enable all patients to be removed. As 


the party left, the bombardment began on both sides. Scrambling, 
pushing, and slipping amid a tornado of shell-fire, they headed 
for Bemafay Wood. It was impossible to keep together, and in 
the darkness squads easily became detached and lost touch. The 
noise of bursting shells was incessant and deafening, while the 
continuous sing of the rifle and machine-gun bullets overhead tried 
the nerves of the hardiest. To crown all, it was raining, and the 
roads were almost impassable for stretcher work. In fact, had 
it not been for the light of the German star shells, the thing could 
not have been worked at all. As the night wore on squad after 
squad of tired, soaked, and mud-covered men stumbled into Ber- 
nafay Wood. Here came a medical officer covered with grime 
and mud from top to toe, carrying a stretcher with a kilted Scot. 
Then a tall parson, unrecognizable under a coating of mud, with 
a stretcher-bearer as partner, whose orders he obeyed implicitly. 
When word was passed round in the morning that all had returned 
alive, some were so incredulous that they started an inquiry of 
their own." 

I quote, too, from the records of the Field Ambu- 
lance a bare summary of a very gallant deed : — 

" On the i8th it was again decided to shell Longueval, in which 
Captain Lawrie had established a Regimental Aid Post. It was 
found to be quite impossible to move all the stretcher cases, so 
he decided to remain behind in his station. The Aid Post was 
in a building, and as the Germans were counter-attacking and 
our troops going out, the windows and doors were barricaded with 
mattresses, furniture, and anything that might stop a bullet. 
The bombardment was opened by both British and German guns, 
and for about nine hours a hurricane of shells was poured into 
the village. By nothing short of a miracle the Regimental Aid 
Post was practically the only place that did not get a direct hit. 
During the night, dressing the wounded was carried out under 
great difficulty, as only a small electric torch or candle could be 
used. Captain the Rev. E. Hill, who had also remained to help, 
managed to keep up a constant supply of tea and coffee, appar- 
ently from supernatural sources. On the morning of the 19th 
a counter-attack was driven well home, and Captain Lawrie's 
party was thus saved from capture." 


There is no more solemn moment in war than the 
parade of men after battle. The few hundred haggard 
survivors of the Brigade in the bright sunshine in Happy 
Valley were too weary and broken to realize how great 
a thing they had done. Tributes had come to them 
from high quarters. Sir Douglas Haig had sent his 
congratulations. The commander of the Fourth Army, 
Sir Henry Rawlinson, had written that " in the 
capture of Delville Wood the gallantry, perseverance, 
and determination of the South African Brigade deserves 
the highest commendation.'* They had earned the 
praise of their own intrepid commanding officers, who 
had gone through the worst side by side with their men. 
'* Each individual," said Tanner's report, " was firm 
in the knowledge of his confidence in his comrades, 
and was, therefore, able to fight with that power which 
good discipline alone can produce. A finer record of 
this spirit could not be found than the line of silent 
bodies along the Strand over which the enemy had not 
dared to tread.*' But the most impressive tribute was 
that of their Brigadier. When the remnant of his 
Brigade paraded before him, Lukin took the salute 
with uncovered head and eyes not free from tears. 




Brigadier-General H. T. Lukin, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O. 
Major J. Mitchell-Baker, D.S.O. 
Captain A. L. Pepper. 

Lieutenant F. R. Roseby Died of wounds. 

Sec. -Lieutenant F. W. S. Burton. 

Name and Rank, 
Lieut.-Col. F. S. Dawson, C.M.G 
Major F. H. Heal . . 
„ E. T. Burges . 
Captain G. J. Miller 
„ H. H. Jenkins 


Lieutenant T. O. Friday (Adjutant) 

S. W. E. Style 
„ C. B. Parsons . 

C. F. S. Nicholson 
„ E. A. Davies 

W. S. Dent 


A. W. Craig . 


„ H. G. Chapman 

„ F. S. English . 

A. C. Harrison 

W. D. Henry • 

„ W. A, Larmuth 
„ A. W. Leifeldt 

C. W. Reid. . 
„ W. N. Brown . 

A. Stuckey 
„ E. J. Burgess . 
Sec.-Lieut. A. C. Haarhoff 


With transport. 




Missing (assumed dead). 




Transport Ofi&cer. 


Missing (assumed dead). 



Wounded and missing 
(since prisoner of war) . 


* The roll is exclusive of the Machine Gun Company, the Trench 
Mortar Battery, the Field Ambulance, and the 64th Field Company 
Royal Engineers, all of which took part in the battle. 


Sec-Lieut. A. E. Brown Killed. 

E. A. L. Hahn Killed. 

W. Tempany Wounded. 

P. W. FuRMiDGE .... Wounded. 

C. I. Bate Prisoner. 

R. M. Lyne 

Q.M. and Hon. Captain A. C. Wearner 

Chaplain and Captain E. St. C. Hill . 

Name and Rank. 
Lieut.-Col. W. E. Tanner, C.M.G. 

Major H. H. Gee 

Captain H. W. M. Bamford (Adjt. 
„ C. R. Heenan . 
„ E. Barlow . . 
„ H. E. Clifford 


W. J. Gray. . 
Lieutenant H. E. F. Creed. 
„ L. Greene . . 

W. J. Hill . . 

F. M. Davis . 
„ C. T. K. Letchford 


„ R. Beverley . 

W. J. Perkins 
Sec-Lieut. T. W. Bru-de-Wold 
„ E. V. Tatham . 
„ A. R. Knibbs . 
„ R. G. Miller . 
„ B. N. Macfarlane 
„ E. C. Bryant . 
„ R. P. Tatham . 

F. G. Walsh . 

A. T. Wales . 
„ G. Green . . 
„ W. H. Flemmer 

N. Fenix . . 

Died of wounds. 
Died of wounds. 

Died of wounds. 

Transport officer. 
Died of wounds. 


Sec-Lieut. J. G. Connock .... Killed. 
Q.M. and Hon. Captain E. A. Legge 

Chaplain and Captain P. J. Walshe 


Name and Rank. 
Lieut.-Col. E. F. Thackeray, C.M.G. . 
Captain (Acting-Major) J. W. Jackson 
R. F. C. Medlicott . . . 
„ D. R. MacLachlan . . . 
„ E. V. Vivian 

„ L. W. TOMLINSON .... 

A. W. H. M'DoNALD (Adjt.) . 

Lieutenant 0. H. dE B. Thomas * * * | 

J. B. Baker 

A. L. Paxton 

A. M. Thomson .... 

B. H. L. Dougherty . . . 

D. A. PiRIE 


H. G. Elliott ..... 

E. J. Phillips 

Sec-Lieut. S. B. Stokes 

D. Jenner 

A. E. Barton 

A. E. Sharpe 

F. K. St. M. Ritchie . . 
D. M. Abel. ..... 

H. W. Gove 

C. H. Dick 

F. H. Sommerset .... 

A. C. Hanks 

S. Pearson 

S. J. Guard 

W. Scallan 

H. N. Heeley 

D. J. W. GowiE .... 
Q.M. and Hon. Lieut. W. H. Carding . 


Wounded. (At duty.) 

Wounded and missing 
(since prisoner of war). 

Missing (assumed dead). 

Missing (assumed dead). 

Died of Wounds. 

Wounded and prisoner. 
Shell shock. 



Captain S. Liebson, S.A.M.C . . . Wounded. 

Chaplain and Captain G. T. Cook , . Killed. 

Name and Rank. Remarks, 

Lieut.-Col. F. A. Jones, C.M.G., D.S.O. Killed. 

Major D. M. MacLeod Wounded. 

„ D. R. Hunt 

Captain E. C. D. Grady .... Wounded. 

T. H. Ross 

„ C. M. Browne (Adjutant) . Wounded. 

„ S. C. Russell Died of wounds. 

„ W. Anderson Shell shock. 

„ G. E. W. Marshall . . . Shell shock. 

F. McE. Mitchell . . . Attached 26th Brigade. 

Lieutenant A. M. Cameron .... Wounded. 

„ J. L. Shenton .... Wounded. 

„ H. M. Newson Prisoner. 

„ T. Farrell Gassed. 

C. M. Guest ..... Staff. 
A. H. Brown Killed. 

„ J. Watkins Wounded. 

„ R. D. Grierson .... Gassed. 

W. McLean Brigade Stafi. 

„ A. S. Taylor Wounded. 

„ H. G. OuGHTERSON . . . Killed. 

R. B. Thorburn .... Killed. 

„ G. Smith Wounded. 

„ A. V. Chase Wounded. 

J. S. Fry Killed. 

A. Young, V.C Wounded. 

Sec-Lieut. C. S. Bell Killed. 

D. Ross Killed. 

W. H. KiRBY Wounded. 

C. A. A. MacLean . . . Wounded. 

„ E. F. Dalgety .... 
Q.M. and Hon. Lieut. Z. B. Bayly. 

Major M. B. Power, S.A.M.C. . . . 
Chaplain and Captain S. Thomson . • 




(July-December 1916.) 

The Brigade attached to the First Army — In the Trenches at Vimy 
—The Difficulties of the Later Stages of the Battle of the 
Somme — ^The Country around the Butte de Warlencourt — 
— ^The Brigade enters the Line at Eaucourt I'Abbaye — ^The 
Attack of 12th October — ^The Capture of the Pimple — ^The 
Attack of i8th October— The Fighting of the i8th and 19th 
— ^The Brigade withdrawn to the Arras Area — General Lukin 
takes Command of the 9th Division. 

A FTER the fight at Longueval and Delville Wood the 
l\ 9th Division left the Somme and was transferred 
^ from the XIII. Corps in the Fourth Army to the 
IV. Corps, under Lieutenant- General Sir Henry Wilson, 
in Sir Charles Monro's First Army. The South 
African Brigade marched to Maricourt on cy 7 
23rd July, where it entrained for Hengest, '^ -^ '* 
and on the 27th arrived in the Frevillers area, north of 
the main road between Arras and St. Pol. 

Here its first task was reorganization. Drafts to the 
number of 40 officers and 2,826 other ranks had been 
sent from Bordon during July, and their training had to 
be completed before they could be absorbed into the 
different regiments.* On 5th August, the Army Com- 

* Lieutenant-Colonel Tanner was wounded on 17th July and his 
second-in-command, Major Gee, took over the 2nd Regiment. Major 



mander, Sir Charles Monro, inspected the Brigade, which 
at the moment showed a parade strength of 62 officers 

- and 2,523 men. On the i ith the King visited 
^' ' Frevillers and walked down the village street, 

which was lined by the ist Regiment in fatigue dress. 
By the third week in the month the Brigade was suffi- 
ciently rested and reconstituted to take its place once 

- again in the front line, and on 23rd August 
^* ^' it took over from the 26th Brigade the Ber- 

thonval and Carency sections of the Vimy area. At that 
date the Germans held the crown of the celebrated ridge, 
and the British front ran along its western slopes. Differ- 
ent battalions of the Brigade held the first-line trenches 
until 23rd September, and thereby enlarged their experi- 
ence of modern war, for they were enabled to realize for 
the first time the discomfort of trench fighting amid 
perpetual rain. For the greater part of the time the 
weather was abominable, the men were standing in two 
feet of water, and the last few days it rained so heavily 
that the parapets crumbled, and every available man had 
to be employed on their repair. It was a foretaste of 
what awaited them in October. 

Vimy was a quiet area, for the great battle on the 
Somme continued, and this stage was for the Brigade 
almost barren of incident. The exception was a raid into 

Gee was killed almost at once, and as there were no senior officers of 
the 2nd left Major Heal of the ist took over command. This he 
held till the arrival from England at the end of August of Lieutenant- 
Colonel Christian, who took command of the 2nd Regiment. After 
the death of Lieutenant-Colonel Jones the 4th Regiment was under 
Major D. M. MacLeod. He was wounded on 17th July, after 
which Major D. R. Hunt took over, and continued in command till 
December 31, 1916. 


the enemy's trenches on the night of the 13th September, 
carried out by parties from ** B '' and " D " ^ 
Companies of the 2nd Regiment, under the ^ ' ^* 
command of Lieutenants Lilburn and Walsh. There was 
a bright moon occasionally obscured by passing clouds ; 
but the raiding parties managed to reach the enemy's 
side of our wire without being observed. Our artillery 
put down a barrage, and under its cover the men doubled 
across No Man's Land and jumped into the German 
trenches, the barrage lifting as they arrived there. Pris- 
oners were secured, dug-outs were bombed, and at a 
prearranged signal the raiders returned to their lines 
before the German barrage began. Their casualties 
were only two, though one was so severely wounded 
that he could not be moved from the German lines. 
Sir Charles Monro sent a message to General Lukin to 
express his admiration for the way in which the raid had 
been conducted — the meticulous care in its preparation, 
and the gallantry and enterprise displayed in its execution. 
On 23rd September the Brigade was relieved, and 
on the 2Sth it moved to a new training area, that of 
the Third Army. On 5th October the 9th <^ 
Division was restored to the Fourth Army, ^ ' ^' 
and on the 7th the South Africans marched southward to 
the Somme. Next day, in heavy rain, they ^ ^ 
relieved the 141st Brigade of the 47th (Lon- ' ^' 
don Territorial) Division in Mametz Wood, now a bleak 
desolation, and on the 9th moved to High Wood, where 
they took over from the 142nd Brigade. The 9th Divi- 
sion was now side by side with another famous Scottish 
division, the 15th, and part of General Pulteney's IH. 


Since the 20th of July much had happened on the 
Somme. The advance of ist July had carried the first 
enemy position on a broad front ; but the failure of the 
attack north of the Ancre had made the breach eight 
miles less than the original plan. The advance of 14th 
July gave us the second enemy position on a still nar- 
rower front — ^from Bazentin-le-Petit to Longueval. The 
danger now was that any further movement might result 
in the formation of a sharp and precarious salient ; so 
Haig broadened the breach by striking out to left and 
right, taking first Pozieres and the high ground at Mou- 
quet Farm, and then on the other flank Guillemont and 
Ginchy. This made the gap in the second enemy line 
seven miles wide, and brought us in most places to the 
highest ground, from which direct observation could be 
had over the slopes and pockets to the east. On 3rd 
^ September the Allies everywhere between 

^ ' ^' Thiepval and Estrees were facing the German 
third line. At the outset of the battle this third position 
had been only in embryo, but before the assault of 14th 
July it had been for the most part completed, and by 
the beginning of September it had been elaborately forti- 
fied, and a fourth position prepared behind it. The 
third line was based on a string of fortified villages which 
lay on the reverse slopes of the main ridge — Courcelette, 
Martinpuich, Flers, Lesboeufs, and Morval. Behind it 
was an intermediate line, with Le Sars, Eaucourt TAbbaye, 
and Gueudecourt as strong points in it. Further back lay 
the newly-made fourth line, just west of the Bapaume- 
Peronne road, covering the villages of Sailly-Saillisel and 
Le Transloy. This was the line protecting Bapaume, and 
at the moment the final German prepared position. 


The fighting during July and August had greatly 
weakened the enemy forces. All the most famous Ger- 
man units had appeared — the pick of the Bavarians, the 
5th Brandenburgers, and every division of the Guard 
and Guard Reserve Corps. The time was ripe early in 
September for a new attack which should accelerate the 
enemy's decline, and give the British front a new orienta- 
tion. Haig's immediate aim was to break through the 
German third line ; but his ultimate objective was a thrust 
north-eastward across the Upper Ancre, so as to get 
behind the great slab of unbroken enemy positions from 
Thiepval northward. The moment was propitious for 
a new blow. The French on the British right had won 
conspicuous successes ; Brussilov was still pinning down 
the Austro- German forces on the Eastern front ; Sarrail 
had just launched an offensive in the Balkans ; Rumania 
had entered the war, and was pouring troops into Tran- 
sylvania ; and the recent changes in the German High 
Command had for the time being slightly dislocated the 

On Friday, 15th September, Haig struck from a point 
south-east of Thiepval to Ginchy, with a force the larger 
part of which, such as the Guards, the Can- ^ 
adians, and the New Zealanders, was fresh ^ * '^* 
to the Somme area. He used for the first time the new 
British tanks, and in one day advanced to an average 
depth of a mile. on a front of more than six, taking Cour- 
celette, Martinpuich, and Flers. Only on his right, 
where the Guards were faced with an impossible task, 
was there any serious check. On 25th September he 
struck again between Combles and Martinpuich, and 
for the second time advanced one mile on a front of 


six, and took Morval, Lesboeufs, and Gueudecourt, while 
on the 26th the right wing of Sir Hubert 

■^26^^" C^^^g^'^ ^^^* ^^"^y carried Thiepval and 
the whole of that crest. That evening the 
Allied fortunes in the West had never looked brighter. 
The enemy was now back in his fourth line, and had 
lost all the advantages of the higher ground. His moral 
was seriously shaken, and it appeared as if his great 
machine was getting out of gear. If heaven granted a 
fine autumn there was good hope that a further advance 
might drive him from the Bapaume ridge and crumble 
his whole front between Arras and Peronne. 

That hope was destined to fail. The guns were 
scarcely silent after the attack of the 26th when the 
weather broke, and October was one succession of 
tempestuous gales and drenching rains. Now appeared 
the supreme difficulty of trench warfare. For three 
months the Allies had been slowly advancing, blasting 
their way forward with their guns before each infantry 
attack, and the result was that the fifty square miles of 
old battleground which lay behind their front lines had 
been tortured out of recognition. The little country 
roads had been wholly destroyed, and, since they never 
had much of a bottom, the road-menders had nothing 
to build upon. New roads were hard to make, for the 
chalky soil had been so churned up by shelling that it 
had lost all cohesion. In all the area there were but 
two good highways, and by the third month of the 
battle even these showed signs of wear. The conse- 
quence was that there were now two No Man's Lands 
— one between the front lines, and one between the old 
enemy front and the front we had won. The second 


was the bigger problem, for across it must be brought 
the suppHes of a great army. It was a war of motor 
transport, and we were doing what the early Victorians 
had pronounced impossible — running the equivalent of 
steam engines not on prepared tracks but on high- 
roads, running them day and night in endless relays. 
The problem was difficult enough in fine weather, but 
when the rain came it turned the whole land into a 
morass. Every road became a watercourse, and in the 
hollows the mud was as deep as a man's thighs. The 
army must be fed, troops must be relieved, guns must 
be supplied, so there could be no slackening of the 
traffic. Off the roads the ground was one vast bog, 
dug-outs crumbled in, and communication trenches 
ceased to be. Behind the British front lay six miles of 
sponge, varied by mud torrents. It was into such 
miserable warfare, under persistent rain in a decom- 
posing land, that the South African Brigade was now 

The line of the Fourth Army from a point north- 
east of Courcelette ran southward for the most part 
along the foot of the slopes which culminated in High 
Wood, and which were known to us as the Thiepval- 
Morval ridge. But a special topographical feature must 
be noted, for on it depended the fighting in October. 
From that ridge a series of spurs descended eastward 
into the hollow, one of which specially concerns us — 
the hammer-headed spur immediately west of Flers, 
at the end of which stood the odd tumulus called 
the Butte de Warlencourt. Below the eastern edge of 
this spur lay the German fourth position. It was a 
position on reverse slopes, and thus screened from 


direct observation, though our command of the high 
ground to the west gave us a view of its hinterland. 
Our own possession of the heights, great though the 
advantages were, had this drawback, that our communi- 
cations had to descend the reverse slopes, and were 
thus partly exposed to the enemy's observation and 
long-range fire. The task of Sir Henry Rawlinson's 
Fourth Army in this sector was, therefore, to carry the 
spurs, and so get within assaulting distance of the Ger- 
man fourth line. The spurs were not part of the Ger- 
man main front, but were held as intermediate positions, 
every advantage being taken of sunken roads, of ruins, 
and of the undulations of the country. They repre- 
sented for the fourth German line what Contalmaison 
had represented for the second ; till they were carried 
no general assault on the main front could be under- 
taken. Further, their capture would relieve our diffi- 
culties by giving us certain cover for our advanced gun 
positions, and shelter for the bringing up of supplies. 

At first things went well. From Flers north-west- 
ward, in front of Eaucourt TAbbaye and Le Sars, ran 
a very strong trench system which we called the Flers 
line, and which was virtually a switch connecting the 
old German third line, now in our hands, with the inter- 
mediate positions on the spurs. The capture of Flers 
gave us the south-eastern part of this line, and during 
the last days of September and the beginning of October 
we won the rest of it. On the ist of October the 50th 
and 47th Divisions carried the Flers line north of Destre- 
mont Farm, and the ruined abbey of Eaucourt, though 
in the latter remnants of the 6th Bavarian Division 
made for some days a stout resistance. On 7th October 


the 23rd Division took the village of Le Sars, on the 
Albert-Bapaume road ; but the 47th Division, on their 
right, failed to reach the Butte de Warlencourt. These 
two divisions were now relieved, and the 15th and the 
9th took their places, with orders to carry the Butte 
and the German intermediate line. 

During the day of 9th October the 2nd South African 
Regiment, under Lieutenant- Colonel Christian, to the 
strength of 20 officers and 578 other ranks, took over 
the portion of the front line to be held by the ^ 
Brigade. The relief, with the exception of ' ^' 

two posts, was complete by 1.25 a.m. on the loth, and 
shortly before daybreak the missing posts were discovered. 
During that night a number of wounded, belonging to 
the outgoing 141st Brigade, were brought in by the 
South Africans. 

The attention of the reader is now requested to the 
map opposite page 92. The boundary of the 9th Division 
on the left was the road from the Butte de Warlencourt 
to Martinpuich, where it ran along the depression of 
the ground west of Eaucourt. The South African Bri- 
gade was on the left of the division, and its brigade 
boundary ran through the ruins of Eaucourt TAbbaye, 
beyond which the 26th Brigade held the front. The 
27th Brigade was in divisional reserve. ** B " and " C " 
Companies of the 2nd Regiment held the front line, as 
shown in the map, together with two strong posts, Nos. 
58 and 77, on their left and right fronts respectively. 
" A " and ** D " Companies were in the support trenches 
of the old Flers line running along the south-west side 
of Eaucourt TAbbaye. The German front trenches. 


known to us as Snag and Tail, lay about i,ooo yards 
from our front line, and conformed roughly to its 
shape. Beyond them, running through the Butte de 
Warlencourt, was the enemy main intermediate posi- 
tion, cutting the Albert-Bapaume road beyond Le Sars. 
The confused fighting of the past weeks and the con- 
stant rains had made the whole front on both sides 
indeterminate. Odd lengths of fantastically-named 
trenches abounded, and at any one moment it was doubt- 
ful which were held by the Germans and which could 
be claimed by the British. Sir Henry Rawlinson's first 
task was to clear the ground up to the Butte, which 
would bring him directly in front of the German fourth 
position, running through Le Transloy and Ligny- 

On the left of the South African front, and under 
their control, stood the ruins of a mill. The first in- 
structions of the 2nd Regiment were to link up the 
posts 58 and 77 with the mill ; but owing to the slow- 
ness of the relief this could not be done till the second 
night, when some 600 yards of trench were dug. Dur- 
ing the whole of the loth and the nth the 2nd Regi- 
ment was heavily shelled ; but their casualties were not 
large. On the nth General Furse issued orders for an 
attack during daylight on the 12th in conjunction with the 
26th Brigade on their right, and the 44th Brigade of the 
15th Division on their left. The enemy's trenches were 
accordingly reconnoitred, and a certain number of 
machine guns located. So far as could be judged, there 
was no wire in the immediate vicinity. Orders were 
issued to push out a post to the point marked 93, 
and to link it up with the mill, but this instruction 















was presently cancelled. A new communication trench 
was dug between Flers trench and the front line. 

The attack on the 12th was fixed for 2.5 in the 
afternoon. The assault was to be carried out on a one- 
battalion front by the 2nd and 4th Regi- ^ 
ments, the 2nd Regiment leading, with the 
3rd and I St in reserve. There were two objectives ; 
the first the enemy trenches called Snag and Tail, and 
the second the main intermediate fine through the Butte 
de Warlencourt. The cloudy morning dissolved after 
midday in a drizzle of rain. At 2.5, after a well-arranged 
barrage, the 2nd Regiment crossed the parapets, closely 
followed by the 4th, under Major Hunt. One minute 
after zero an enemy barrage of exceptional violence 
began, with the result that in a quarter of an hour the 
telephone wires to the front line were cut, and no re- 
ports were received for some time. In the misty weather 
it was impossible to see any distance, and the diflSculty 
was increased owing to a smoke barrage, which we had 
laid down around the Butte, drifting in our direction. 
Presently it appeared that the enemy was following a 
new practice. The ground over which we were attack- 
ing was a gentle slope, perfectly suited to machine-gun 
fire. He had his machine guns placed well back in 
prepared positions, and caught our attack at long range. 
Under this blast no troops could live, and presently the 
impetus of the assault died away, long before the first 
objective had been obtained. 

At 4 p.m. General Lukin received a message from 
Captain Ross of the 4th Regiment that he, with some 
details of the 2nd, was holding a line of shell-holes and 
a shallow trench half-way between our old front line and 


the first objective, and that in front of him, near the 
first objective, v^ras a company of the 4th, while a part 
of the 2nd seemed to be farther forward. Lukin 
had already sent forward a company of the 3rd Regi- 
ment to hold the old front line, and he now ordered 
two officers' patrols from this company to clear up the 
situation. They reported during the evening that the 
Brigade had nowhere reached its first objective. As 
the attacking battalions had suffered heavily, and were 
now more or less disorganized, Lukin ordered the 3rd 
Regiment to relieve them, while the ist was moved up 
in support. The relief was no light task, owing to the 
congested state of the communication trenches, and the 
difficulty of obtaining reliable guides ; and it was not 
till after dawn on the 13th that the 2nd and 4th Regi- 
ments were brought back to High Wood. 

Early on the 13th it was discovered that Lieutenants 
Pearse and Donaldson, with about sixty men, had dug 
^ themselves in at a very exposed point near 

^' the enemy's line, and due south of the post at 
point 93. Lieutenant-Colonel Thackeray, commanding 
the 3rd Regiment, instructed Captain Montgomery, who 
commanded " C " Company in it, to open up visual 
communication with Lieutenant Pearse, and tell him 
that he could not be relieved till after dark. This was 
found to be impossible ; but Lieutenant Cruddas suc- 
ceeded in reaching the place and ascertaining the exact 
position of the party, with the result that they were 
brought back safely during the evening. Meantime 
much work had been done in digging trenches and 
establishing what ground had been won. A new trench, 
afterwards known as Pearse 's Trench, was dug from 


our old line to the point which he had held, and made 
a jumping-off ground for future operations. 

Orders were received from the division at 6.15 p.m. 
to reconnoitre the deserted strong-point 93, with the 
object of occupying it. A patrol, under Lieutenant 
Mallett, reached it with little opposition, and found 
there many signs of German occupation, including a 
field and two machine-gun emplacements and a deep 
dug-out. This place was soon to become only too 
familiar to us under the name of the Pimple, a little 
mound some 60 feet long, 12 feet wide, and from 12 
to 15 feet high.* The patrol did not return till day- 
break, so it was impossible to occupy the Pimple that 
night ; but the 3rd Regiment were instructed that the 
following evening, as soon as the dark fell, they must 
enter into possession of the place, so that it might be 
linked up with the rest of the line. Accordingly, early 
on the night of the 14th, ** B " Company of ^ 
the 3rd Regiment, under Captain Sprenger, ' ^* 

was detailed for the work. Lieutenant Mallett led the 
advance for 400 yards and reached the mound, which 
was thereafter garrisoned by a party under Lieutenant 
Medlicott. Lieutenant Mallett then entered the trench 
running from the Pimple towards the enemy position 
in Snag and Tail trenches, and bombed the enemy out 
of a portion of this till he was driven back by machine- 
gun fire and severely wounded. Another party, how- 
ever, under Lieutenants Harris and Estill, continued 
the work, and succeeded in taking and holding a con- 
siderable part of this section of the old German com- 
munications. That night the place was heavily bombed 
* In its origin it was probably a big-gun emplacement. 


by Germans moving along the trenches, and soon after 
dawn on the 15th a working party was seen approach- 
ing. As they were in close order, a Lewis gun was 
turned on them, and the squad was dispersed with 
many casualties. The garrison of ** B " Company con- 
tinued to hold the Pimple and the captured trenches 
until relieved by '* A " Company of the 3rd on the 
night of the 15th. The casualties during the opera- 
tion amounted to 3 officers (Lieutenant Medlicott killed, 
Captain Sprenger and Lieutenant Mallett wounded, the 
latter subsequently dying of his wounds) and 35 other 
ranks. It was one of the most gallant exploits during 
this stage of the battle. 

On the night of the i6th the 3rd Regiment retired 
to the support line, and their place in the front trenches 
was taken by the ist, under Lieutenant- 
* ~ Colonel Dawson. Meantime, large working 
parties had been employed in widening and 
deepening the communication trench between the Pimple 
and our front line and back to Flers Switch. During 
the 17th Dawson took his company commanders round 
the whole trench system, pointing out the limits of 
each company's front and the points to be attacked, 
for on that day orders had come from the division for 
an assault in the early morning of the i8th against the 
same objectives which had been attacked without suc- 
cess on the 1 2th. Such coaching was a most needful 
preliminary, for every hour, under the shelling and the 
weather, the landscape was growing more featureless. 
To the eye it was only a waste of wrinkled grey mud. 

All that evening and for most of the night heavy 
rain fell, so that the trenches and parapets were mere 


undulations in a quagmire. The front-line trench being 
deep and narrow with few fire-steps, it was difficult 
for the men to leave it, and realizing this, the company 
commanders began getting their troops out more than 
an hour before the time fixed for the attack. Zero hour 
was at 3.40 a.m., and when it came the three ^ ^ 
assa^ lit ing companies of the i st Regiment were 
already for the most part formed up in No Man's Land. 

Keeping as close as they dared to their barrage, the 
South Africans advanced, with " C " Company on their 
left, " B " Company in the centre, and " A " on the 
right. They disappeared into the rain, and for several 
hours were unheard of. When news came it was news 
of failure. " C " Company, under Captain Jenkins, 
passed the communication trench leading south from 
the Pimple, and came to that junction of Tail and Snag 
trenches which we called the Nose of the Switch. Here 
they were held up by wire at the foot of a steep bank 
in front of the German line, and were also heavily 
bombed from the trenches themselves. The leading 
platoon was almost entirely shot down, and though an 
officer and six men of the following platoon managed to 
get into the German trench, they, too, immediately fell. 
The only officer left was Captain Jenkins, who was him- 
self wounded ; and, seeing that the enemy line was so 
strongly held, and that there was no hope of success 
for what remained of his company, he ordered the 
company sergeant-major to withdraw the survivors to 
their original line. The casualties of " C " Company 
were 69 out of the 100 who crossed the parapet. 

The fate of " A " and " B " Companies was still 
harder, and to understand it the reader must again turn 

(2,097) ? 


to the map. The two companies advanced rapidly 
behind our barrage and entered Snag Trench, Captain 
Whiting, who commanded " B " Company, being mor- 
tally wounded half-way across. They failed, however, 
to realize that they had reached their objective, and 
continued beyond it. The whole place was so battered 
by shell-fire that the trench outlines had become obscure. 
They saw about 600 yards on their right some of the 
Highlanders of the 26th Brigade, but they had now 
wholly lost touch with their flanks, and the enemy was 
filtering in between them and their old front. Lieu- 
tenant Stapleton with a few stragglers succeeded in re- 
turning, after killing some twelve Germans and taking 
nineteen prisoners ; two oflicers and sixteen other ranks 
were captured ; but with these exceptions all the men of 
'' A '' and " B '' Companies were killed.* 

At daybreak a gallant attempt was made by Major 
Ormiston, commanding the troops on the Pimple, to 
bomb along the trench leading to the junction of the 
Tail and Snag trenches, but it broke down under 
machine-gun fire from the German strong-point at the 
Nose. A block was established about 50 yards up the 
trench from the Pimple, but no further progress could 
be made, since the trench dipped into a hollow, and was 
wholly commanded by the Germans at the Nose. 

Such was the position on the morning of the i8th. 
During the night a company of the 3rd Regiment, under 
Captain Langdale, had been moved forward to the front 

* " One saw a large party of South Africans at full stretch 
with bayonets at the charge — all dead ; but even in death they 
seemed to have the battle ardour stamped on their faces." Lieut.- 
Col. Croft's Three Years with the c)th Division, p. 84. 


line and put at Dawson's disposal, and a company of 
the 4th Regiment was sent to replace it in the support 
line. Presently Langdale took up his position in Pearse's 
Trench, and on Dawson's instructions sent out a patrol 
to look for " A " and ** B " Companies. The patrol 
returned at two in the afternoon, having obtained no 
information. The situation, therefore, was that " C " 
Company had failed in the attack with heavy losses, 
and that " A " and " B " Companies had disappeared. 
The key of the enemy position was clearly the Nose, 
and until this could be thoroughly bombarded progress 
was impossible. Communications, however, were so 
difficult that all day Dawson was asking for the bom- 
bardment of the Nose, and all day our guns were firing 
on the wrong point. 

That afternoon Dawson was ordered to renew the 
attack at 5.45 p.m. He decided that " D " Company 
of his own ist Regiment should attack from the Pimple, 
while Captain Langdale 's Company of the 3rd should 
advance from Pearse's Trench. If the Nose was to be 
taken it must be attacked along Snag Trench from the 
east. Owing to the appalling condition of the trenches, 
which were now all but impassable. Captain Langdale 
advanced with only one platoon and two Lewis gun 
teams. He entered Snag Trench without opposition, 
and moved along it to the right for some 200 yards, 
where he made a block and left a Lewis gun. He 
then moved westward to a point about 25 yards from 
the Nose, where he came upon three German machine 
guns in action. He did not feel strong enough to attack 
them himself, and after remaining there about an hour 
withdrew his men to the original front line. The bomb- 


ing attack from the Pimple had also failed. Dawson 
ordered Captain Langdale to return at once and re- 
occupy Snag Trench, and this was done between twelve 
and one on the morning of the 19th. 

Meanwhile Lukin had sent forward a company of 
the 4th Regiment, under Captain Ross, with instruc- 
tions to carry out a fresh attack at the junction of Snag 
and Tail trenches. Captain Ross reached the front line 
^ about 4 a.m. on the morning of the 19th. 

* ^* At about five o'clock the enemy launched an 
assault with bombs and flammenwerfer against Captain 
Langdale 's and Captain Ross's men in Snag Trench, 
and drove them out, with heavy casualties to Captain 
Ross's company. The leader was wounded, and Lieu- 
tenant Young, V.C., killed. The position now was that 
Snag and Tail trenches were held in force by the 
enemy, and that we were everywhere back in our old 
line except on the extreme right, where some details of 
the 3rd and 4th Regiments seemed to be on the left 
flank of the 26th Brigade. 

On the morning of the 19th it was decided to make 
another attempt to clear Snag Trench, and for the pur- 
pose a company was dispatched from the 3rd Regiment, 
under Lieutenant ElHott. All that morning the two 
machine guns at the Pimple, under Major Ormiston, 
had enfiladed the trench. It often happened that small 
bodies of Germans, unable to stand the strain, would 
leave cover and bolt across the open towards the Butte, 
making an excellent target for our snipers and machine 
gunners.* By the afternoon few of the enemy were left 

♦ When the Nose was finally occupied by the 6th K.O.S.B. 
they found over 250 German dead lying around it. 

THE BRIGADE RELIEVEP; .. ; '. . lot'. 

in Snag Trench; but the machine gyns^.werQ-.stiUtStf; 
the Nose, and our artillery seemed unabte*tT) tou^h tKem." 

At noon Lieutenant Elliott reported to Dawson, and 
was instructed to enter Snag Trench, to get in touch 
with the 26th Brigade on his right, and then to work 
his way towards the Nose and drive out the enemy 
there. At five minutes to three Lieutenant Elliott 
entered Snag Trench without difficulty, but failed — 
apparently owing to insufficient bombs — ^to advance to- 
wards the Nose, beyond which Major Ormiston was 
waiting to attack as soon as there was a supporting 
movement from the east. The thing had now become 
hopeless. Dawson had not a single officer or man, 
with the exception of his adjutant, fit to make 
another journey to the front line. The mud was so 
thick that rifles, machine guns, and Lewis guns were 
constantly jamming, and among the little party on the 
Pimple there was not one rifle which could be fired. 
In many of the trenches the mud was three feet deep, 
and the wounded had to be dug out at once before they 
suffocated. Every man was utterly exhausted.* 

That night the remnant under Dawson was relieved 
by the 6th K.O.S.B. from the 27th Brigade, and early 
on the morning of the 20th all were back ^ 
in High Wood. 

So ended the tale of the South Africans' share in 
the most dismal of all the chapters of the Somme, a 
chapter which, nevertheless, deserves to rank high in 

* The atrocious condition of the ground was partly due to our 
use of the delay-action fuse, which caused shells to explode well 
below the soil and so led to big subsidences which speedily became 


t|;ie, record of British hardihood. The enemy held his 
ground with admirable skill and resolution. The fighting 
had not the swift pace and the obvious successes of the 
earlier battles. We were striving for minor objectives, 
and such a task lacks the impetus and exhilaration 
of a great combined assault. Often the action resolved 
itself into isolated struggles, a handful of men in a mud- 
hole holding out till their post was linked up with our 
main front. Rain, cold, slow reliefs, the absence of hot 
food, and often of any food at all, made those episodes 
a severe test of endurance and devotion. So awful was 
the mud that each stretcher required eight bearers, and 
at the end battalion runners, though carrying no arms 
or equipment, took from four to six hours to cover the 
thousand odd yards between the front line and battalion 
headquarters. To show the utter exhaustion of the 
troops, at High Wood after the relief many men were 
found lying fast asleep without overcoats or blankets, 
and stiff with frost. To add to their discomfort, there 
was a perpetual and inevitable confusion of mind. The 
front was never at any one moment clearly defined, and 
officers led and men followed in a cruel fog of uncer- 
tainty. Such fighting could not be other than costly. 
In the ten days from the 9th to the 19th October the 
South African casualties were approximately 1,150, in- 
cluding 45 officers, 16 of whom were killed.* 

On 2 1 St October the Brigade, with the exception of 
the 3rd Regiment, which was in High Wood in reserve 

* The Butte de Warlencourt was never taken during the 
Battle of the Somme, though early in November the 50th Division 
made a gallant attempt. It was occupied by us in the last week of 
February 1917, when the enemy retreated. 

Brig.-Gen. FRED. STEWART DAWSON, C.M.G.. D.S.O., A.D.C., 
Commanding ist South African Regiment, and later South African 



to the 27th Brigade, moved to Mametz Wood. On the 
23rd orders were received that the Brigade would be in 
reserve in the attack to be carried out by the 9th Divi- 
sion on the 2Sth. Presently these orders were cancelled, 
and the entire division was taken out of the line. At the 
end of the month it moved north to an area south of 
the Doullens- Arras road, and became part of Major- 
General Aylmer Haldane's VI. Corps in Sir Edmund 
AUenby's Third Army. 

During November the ist South African Regiment 
was in huts at Duisans, the 2nd at Lattre St. Quentin, 
the 3rd at Wanquetin, and the 4th billeted in Arras, 
where it was engaged in improving the defences of that 
city. The other regiments were occupied in training, 
in the construction of new roads and cable trenches, 
and in the other preliminary work necessary in the area 
of a coming battle. For it had already been decided by 
Sir Douglas Haig that the great thrust of the spring 
would be from Arras eastward. 

November of that year was not the sodden down- 
pour of October. There were seasons of high wind 
and sharp frost, which were a grateful relief after 
the monotony of the Butte de Warlencourt fighting. 
On 2nd December General Lukin was promoted to 
the command of the 9th Division, with the 
rank of Major- General, on General Purse's ^^- 2- 
appointment as Master- General of the Ordnance. 
All South Africans felt their Brigadier's advancement 
to be a personal tribute to the Brigade which he had so 
gallantly led. He was succeeded in its command by 
Lieutenant-Colonel Dawson of the ist Regiment, who 
was succeeded in turn by Major F. H. Heal. 


(January-July 1917.) 

The Allied Plan for 1917 — Sir Douglas Haig's Scheme — ^The 
Object of the Arras Battle — ^The Nature of the German 
Defences — ^The Training of the Brigade — ^The Attack of 
Easter Monday — Success of the 9th Division — The Work 
of the South African Field Ambulance — The Attack of 
12th April — ^The Losses of the Brigade — Transferred to 
Trescault Section. 

IN November 19 16 a conference of representatives of 
all the Allied Powers was held at French General 
Headquarters, and a plan made for the campaign of 
the following year. In 191 7 Sir Douglas Haig desired 
to undertake a great offensive in Flanders, with a view to 
clearing the Belgian coast, for in that area he believed 
that success would give the highest strategic reward. 
But before this movement began it was desirable to reap 
the fruits of the Battle of the Somme. In November 
the enemy was penned in an awkward salient between 
the valleys of the Ancre and the Scarpe. The British 
Commander-in-Chief proposed early in the spring to 
attack this salient simultaneously on two sides — the 
Fifth Army moving on the Ancre front, and the Third 
Army attacking from the north-west about Arras. At 



the same time the First Army was to carry the Vimy 
Ridge, the possession of which was necessary to secure 
the left flank of our operations farther south. So soon 
as this was completed, the Flanders campaign would 
begin with an assault on the Messines Ridge, to be 
followed by an attack eastward from the Ypres salient. 

The reasons for Sir Douglas Haig's plan are clear. 
He was fully aware of the new great German position 
which had been preparing during the winter, and which 
was known as the Hindenburg or Siegfried Line, and 
he did not think it good policy to make a frontal assault 
upon it. He knew that the Battle of the Somme had 
seriously weakened the enemy, and he believed — it was, 
indeed, a mathematical certainty — ^that the tactics of the 
Somme, if persisted in during 1917, and supported by 
a reasonable pressure from the Russian front, would 
give the Allies victory before the close of that year. 
He wished, therefore, to stage a second battle of the 
Somme type — ^to stage it in an area where its strategic 
results would be most fruitful ; and to begin it 
sufficiently early in the season to allow a decision to 
be reached before the close of the good weather. 

This plan had to be wholly recast. The British and 
French Governments decided that Haig must take over 
a longer front, and before the end of February 19 17 
the British right was as far south as a point opposite 
the town of Roye. Again, the retreat of the Germans 
during February and March 19 17 destroyed the salient 
which Haig had purposed to attack. There now re- 
mained nothing of the preliminary movement as origi- 
nally planned, except the carrying of the Vimy Ridge. 
But a fresh scheme had been proposed by the French 


and accepted by the British Government. Under the 
new French Commander-in-Chief, Nivelle, an ambi- 
tious operation was conceived on the heights of the 
Aisne, which, it was trusted, would open the way to 
Laon. In this action the old method of limited objec- 
tives was to be relinquished ; and Nivelle hoped, by 
means of his new tactics and by an unexampled con- 
centration of troops, to break through the enemy lines 
on a broad front and restore the war of movement. 
This attack was fixed for the middle of April. It would 
operate against the southern pivot of the Siegfried zone, 
and it was arranged that Haig should use his forces 
against the northern pillar east of Arras, and should 
strike a week before. 

The position was, therefore, that the Arras battle, 
which Haig had regarded as only a preparation for the 
main campaign of the season in Flanders, became the 
principal task of the British Army during the first half of 
1917. This battle in turn was conceived as an action 
subsidiary to the greater effort of the French in the south. 
It was admittedly an attack in a region where, except 
for an unexampled piece of fortune, great strategic 
results could scarcely be obtained. The British success 
depended upon what the French could do on the Aisne. 
If Nivelle failed, then they, too, must fail in the larger 
strategic sense, however valuable might be certain of 
their local gains. If, however, Nivelle succeeded, the 
pressure from Arras in the north would beyond doubt 
greatly contribute to the enemy's discomfiture. The 
danger of the whole plan was that the issue might be 
indeterminate and the fighting at Arras so long pro- 
tracted, without any decisive success, that the chances 


of the more vital Flanders offensive later in the summer 
would be imperilled. This, as we shall see, was pre- 
cisely what happened. 

In December 19 16 the 9th Division relieved the 
35th Division, which was then holding the trenches in 
front of Arras. The front held by the South African 
Brigade extended now for 1,800 yards northward from 
the River Scarpe.^ For three months they remained 
in this section, during the severest winter known in 
France for many years. For most of December it 
rained, and in January and February there 
came heavy snow and bitter frost. On 14th -^ ' J*"' 
January the 9th Division passed from the 
VI. Corps to the XVII. Corps, commanded by Lieu- 
tenant- General Sir Charles Fergusson, and this involved 
an alteration in the divisional boundaries. The 26th 
Brigade, which was holding a line of trenches south 
of the Scarpe, now relieved certain Canadian units; 
and the whole of the new corps front, since several of 
its divisions had not yet arrived, was held by the 9th 
Division, with all three brigades in line. Early in 
February the 51st (Highland Territorial) Division took 
over the ground held by the 26th Brigade, and the 
34th Division relieved the 27th Brigade, so that the 9th 
Division's front from St. Pancras Trench to the Scarpe 
was held by the South Africans. 

These months were filled with preparations for the 
great spring attack. New trenches had to be made and 
old trenches diverted ; headquarters had to be found 
for battalions and brigades, and emplacements con- 

♦ Their right flank was in a marsh, where duck-shooting could 
be enjoyed within 800 yards of the German trenches. 


structed for artillery and trench mortars. In addition 

to this, patrols and wiring parties were busy every 

Jan. 3. ^^^^^- ^^ January 3, 1917, a party from 

the 3rd South African Regiment, commanded 
by Lieutenants B. W. Goodwin and W. F. G. Thomas, 
made a successful raid on the German trenches. The 
men were picked volunteers, who, for the week before, 
had been thoroughly trained in the work, so that each 
knew exactly the task before him. All had blackened 
faces, and used only the Zulu language. After our 
barrage had drenched the enemy front line the raiders 
entered the German trenches, which were found to be 
very deep and magnificently constructed, though badly 
damaged by our gun-fire. Only one prisoner was 
brought in, but a number of dug-outs and concrete 
machine-gun emplacements were destroyed, and the 
enemy suffered many casualties. 

On 4th March the South Africans were relieved by 
the 26th Brigade, and marched from Arras to the neigh- 

bourhood of Ostreville, where they began 
^' their intensive training for the coming offen- 
sive. Their casualties during the previous three months 
in the line had been 2 officers and 49 other ranks 
killed, and 5 officers and 166 other ranks wounded. The 
health of the men, considering the severity of the weather, 
had been extraordinarily good, and only twenty-eight 
cases of trench feet were reported. As was dryly ob- 
served, the doubt as to whether they could stand a 
northern winter was settled by keeping them continu- 
ously in the trenches. On 5th March Sir Douglas Haig 
inspected the ist and 4th Regiments, and compli- 
mented them highly on their smartness ; and on nth 


March the ist, 2nd, and 4th Regiments were inspected 
by che Colonial Secretary, Mr. Walter Long. 

While the South Africans were beginning their inten- 
sive training, the Germans were completing their retire- 
ment from the Bapaume Ridge to the Siegfried Line. 
At the hamlet of Tilloy-lez-Mofflaines, on the Arras- 
Cambrai road, this line branched off from the old front. 
Beaurains was now ours, and Arras was therefore free 
from its former encirclement in the south. The German 
position from the northern pivot of the new Siegfried 
Line to Lens was very strong, consisting of three main 
systems, each constructed on the familiar pattern of four 
parallel lines of trenches studded with redoubts, and 
linked up by numerous switches. A special and very 
powerful switch line ran for 5I miles from the village 
of Feuchy northward across the Scarpe to beyond Thelus, 
and constituted what was virtually a fourth line of de- 
fence. The whole defensive belt was from two to five 
miles deep, but the German High Command were' not 
content with it. They had designed an independent 
line running from Drocourt, south-east of Lens, to the 
Siegfried Line at Queant as an alternative in case of 
an assault on the Arras salient. Towards the close of 
March this position, which was to become famous as the 
Drocourt- Queant Switch, was not complete. It was 
intended as a protection to Douai and Cambrai, the loss 
of which would have made the whole Siegfried system 
untenable. But it was designed only as an extra pre- 
caution, for there was every confidence in the mighty 
ramified defences between Lens and Tilloy and in the 
resisting power of the northern Siegfried section. The 
country through which the German positions ran was 


peculiarly suited to their purpose. It represented the 
breakdown of the Picardy wolds into the flats of the 
Scheldt, the last foothills of the uplands of northern 
France. Long, low spurs reach out to the eastward 
separating the valleys of the Scarpe, the Cojeul, and the 
Sensee, and their sides are scored with smaller valleys 
— an ideal terrain for a defensive battle. 

It will be seen that Sir Douglas Haig had a formidable 
problem before him. The immediate key of the area 
was Vimy Ridge, the capture of which was necessary to 
protect the flank of any advance farther south. It was 
clear that no strategic result could be obtained unless 
the Drocourt-Queant Switch were breached, and that 
meant an advance of well over six miles. But this 
position was still in the making ; and if the fates were 
kind, and the first three German systems could be 
carried at a rush, there was good hope that the Drocourt- 
Queant line would never be manned, and that the drive 
of the British, assisted by the great French attack on the 
Aisne, might bring them to Douai and Cambrai. It was 
a hope, but no more. A result so far-reaching demanded 
a combination of fortunate chances, which as yet had 
not been vouchsafed to us in any battle of the campaign. 

The city of Arras, situated less than a mile inside the 
British lines, was, like Ypres, the neck of a bottle, and 
through it and its environs went most of the transport 
for the new battle front. For two years it had been a 
place of comparative peace. It had been badly shelled, 
but mainly in the autumn and winter of 19 14. The 
cathedral, a poor rococo edifice, had been destroyed, and 
looked far nobler in its ruin than it had ever done in 
its integrity. The beautiful old Hotel de Ville had been 


wriicked, and much damage had been done among the 
exquisite Spanish houses of the Grande Place. Few 
buildings had altogether escaped, but the place was still 
a habitable though a desolated city. Entering it by the 
Baudimont Gate on a summer's day the stranger saw 
the long white street running intact towards the railway 
station, and it was not till he looked closer that he noted 
shell marks and broken windows and the other signs 
of war. There were many hundreds of civilians still 
living there, and children could be seen playing on the 
pavement. Visitors came often, for it was the easiest 
place in all France from which to enter the first lines. 
Across the railway, a short walk in communication 
trenches, or even on the open road, and you were in 
the actual battle front west of Blangy or in the faubourg 
of St. Sauveur. An inn, the Hotel de Commerce, was 
still open, and men could dine there in comfort before 
proceeding to their posts in the line. But up to April 
19 17 the place had the air of a tomb. It was like a city 
stricken with the plague : whole, yet untenanted. Espe- 
cially eerie did it seem in the winter twilight, when in 
the long echoing streets the only sign of life was an 
occasional kilted Scot or South African, or a hurrying 
peasant woman, and the rumble of the guns beyond Vimy 
alone broke the heavy silence. The gaunt ruins of the 
cathedral rose like a splendid headstone in a graveyard. 

Towards the close of March 19 17 Arras awoke to an 
amazing change. Its streets and lanes were once more 
full of life, and the Roman arch of the Baudimont Gate 
saw an endless procession of troops and transport. A 
city makes a difficult base for a great attack. It must 
be the route of advancing infantry and their billeting 


area, and it is a mark which the enemy guns can scarcely 
miss. To minimise this danger the British generals 
had recourse to a bold plan. They resolved in this 
section to assemble their armies underground. After 
the fashion of old French towns, Arras had huge ancient 
sewers, like those of Paris which may be read of in 
Les Miser ables, A map of them was found, and the 
underground labyrinth was explored and enlarged. 
Moreover, the town had grown over the quarries from 
which the older part of it had been built, and these also 
were discovered. The result was that a second city was 
created below the first, where three divisions could be 
assembled in perfect security. The caverns were lit by 
electricity, plans and sign-posts were put up as if it had 
been a Tube railway, and a dressing station with 700 
beds was constructed. Here it was arranged that the 
greater part of the VI. Corps should assemble for the 
attack due east of the city. As a matter of fact the thing 
was not needed. The Germans shelled the town inter- 
mittently, but there was no real bombardment, and 
before Arras could be methodically destroyed the enemy 
had been pushed many miles eastward. 

The South African Brigade, like the other troops of 
assault, were trained for the battle with scientific pre- 
cision. Models in clay of the German trenches were 
constructed on the training ground, which was laid out 
as near as possible to correspond to the enemy front in 
depth and breadth. Here the attack was practised until 
each man was made familiar with his proper task. Dur- 
ing these days the British artillery was very busy. So 
great was the concentration of guns that they could have 
been placed wheel to wheel from end to end of the battle 


front. Various ** Chinese " attacks were organized, as 
rehearsals and to mislead the enemy. In the third week 
of March a systematic cutting of the German wire began, 
and our heavy artillery shelled their back areas /ijyyjj - 
and communications. On Thursday, the 
5th of April, a steady bombardment opened against all 
the main German positions, more especially the great 
fortress of the Vimy Ridge. Wonderful counter-battery 
work was done, and battery after battery of the enemy 
was put out of action, located partly by direct observa- 
tion from the air, and partly by our new device for sound- 
identification. These were for the most part days of 
clear, cold, spring weather, with the wind in the north- 
east ; and from dawn to dark our airplanes fought on 
their own account a mighty battle. The history of 
that week must rank as an epoch in the campaign in the 
air. It was a time of heavy losses, for at all costs the 
foe must be blinded, and the British airmen kept up 
one continuous offensive. Forty-eight of our own planes 
failed to return, and forty-six of the enemy's were 
destroyed or driven down out of control. The attackers, 
as was natural, paid the heavier price. 

The British front of attack was slightly over twelve 
miles long, from Givenchy-en-Gohelle in the north to a 
point just short of Croisilles in the south. On the left 
was the right Corps of Sir Henry Home's First Army — 
the Canadian Corps under Sir Julian Byng, with one 
British brigade, directed against the Vimy Ridge. On 
their right lay Sir Edmund Allenby's Third Army. Its 
northern Corps, next to the Canadians, was the XVII., 
under Sir Charles Fergusson, with three divisions in line — 
from left to right the 51st (Highland Territorial), the 34th, 

(2,097) 8 


and the 9th ; and one, the 4th, in support. The central 
Corps was Aylmer Haldane's VI., with, in Une, the 15th, 
1 2th, and the 3rd Divisions, and the 37th in support. 
On the right of the battle was Sir Thomas Snow's 
VII. Corps, with the 14th, s6th, and 30th Divisions in 
Hne, and the 21st forming a pivot on the right. It is 
interesting to note that in its constituents the army of 
assault was largely Scottish. Thirty-eight Scots bat- 
talions were destined to go over the parapet — a larger 
number than the British at Waterloo, and many times the 
force that Bruce commanded at Bannockburn. 

On 13th March the 9th Division had received the 
plan of attack, and from 5th April onward its divisional 
Atril 6 ^^^^ — ^^9 pieces in all — ^were busy with the 
preliminary bombardment. On Friday, 6th 
April, the South African Brigade — ^with the exception of 
the I St Regiment, which was in line — ^was inspected by 
Lieutenant- General J. C. Smuts, but lately returned from 
his East African campaign. He was deeply impressed 
by the fine condition of the men. They had passed 
through one of the worst winters on record without 
losing any of their ardour of spirit or vigour of body. 
So far their experience in battle had been bitterly hard — 
the long-drawn-out torture of Delville Wood, and the 
misery of the hopeless struggle at the Butte de Warlen- 
court. Now for the first time they were about to engage in 
a great forward movement, long and patiently prepared, 
and amply supported by artillery. Every man among 
them was strung to that pitch of expectation and confi- 
dence which is the mood of all successful offensives. 

A proof of their spirit was given the following day. 
It was necessary to identify more carefully the German 


troops against them, and the ist Regiment was ordered 
to carry out a dayHght raid. The attempt was origi- 
nally timed for eleven in the morning, but /, y 
it was subsequently postponed to three in 
the afternoon. At that hour, under cover of our barrage, 
a party of 5 officers and 50 other ranks, under Captain 
T. Roffe, crossed our parapets, and reached the German 
trenches without a casualty. A large dug-out was 
found, out of which three Germans of the 8th Bavarian 
Regiment were taken prisoner. Their object having 
been accomplished the party retired, and reached their 
own lines with the loss of one killed and three wounded. 
On their way back, however, a private with a broken 
thigh was seen by Lieutenant Scheepers to be lying in 
front of the German parapet. He and Captain Roffe 
went back to help him ; but, coming under heavy fire, 
were compelled to take cover in a shell-hole in No Man's 
Land, where they remained until, under the cloak of 
darkness, they were able to bring in their wounded man. 
That night the Brigade, less the ist Regiment, 
marched from its training area to Arras, and took up 
its quarters in the northern outskirts. The artillery 
preparation continued to be intense till the ^ y r. 
next day, Sunday, 8th April, the day origi- 
nally fixed for the attack. That Sunday the weather was 
clear and calm, with a foretaste of spring. A lull seemed 
to fall upon the British front, and the ear-splitting din of 
the past week died away into sporadic bombardments. 
It is possible that this sudden quiet outwitted the enemy. 
He was perfectly aware of the coming attack, and he knew 
its area and objectives. He had expected it each day, and 
each day had been disappointed. On the Sunday he began 


to reply, and rained shells at intervals into the streets of 
Arras, but he did little harm. The troops of attack there 
were waiting comfortably in cellars and underground as- 
sembly stations. In the late evening the weather changed, 
the wind shifted to the west, and blew up to rain and squalls 
of snow . During the night there were long spells of quiet , 
broken by feverish outbreaks of enemy fire from Vimy to 
Croisilles. Our own batteries were for the most part silent. 
That night the South Africans began to assemble in 
the front and support lines preparatory to their attack. 
The 9th Division was holding some i ,800 yards of front 
from the river Scarpe to a point just north of the Bailleul 
road. It had the 26th Brigade on its right next the river, 
the South Africans in the centre, and the 27th Brigade 
on its left. Three objectives had been given to the 
division, known as the Black, the Blue, and the Brown 
lines. The Black Line, from the river Scarpe to Chante- 
cler, including the village of Laurent-Blangy, represented 
the last line of the enemy's front system, and was ap- 
proximately 800 yards away from our own front trenches. 
To reach this line two, and in places three, trench lines 
had to be taken and passed. The Blue Line was 900 yards 
east of the first objective, and represented the enemy's 
second trench system on the Arras-Lens railway. The 
Brown Line, from 800 to 1,000 yards farther east, was 
the German third system, running from the village of 
Athies to the Point du Jour. To reach the Brown Line a 
distance of some 2,700 yards had to be traversed. If the 
Brown Line were taken. General Lambton's 4th Division 
was to pass through the 9th, and capture the Green 
Line, including the village of Fampoux — the last German 
system before the Drocourt-Queant Switch. 


The arrangements for the South African Brigade 
were that they should attack on a two-battalion front 
of 600 yards, with the 4th Regiment on the left and the 
3rd on the right, each battalion attacking on a two- 
company front, supported by its two remaining com- 
panies, while each company in turn would be on a two- 
platoon front. The 2nd Regiment was in support on 
the left, and the ist on the right. When the first two 
objectives were taken the two battalions in support were 
to become the attacking battalions for the third objective 
— ^the Brown Line — ^while the two original assaulting 
battalions remained in support. The ist Regiment 
was under Lieutenant- Colonel Heal, the 2nd under 
Lieutenant- Colonel Tanner, the 3rd under Lieutenant- 
Colonel Thackeray, and the 4th under Lieutenant- 
Colonel Christian. Pontoons were thrown across the 
Scarpe during the night to facilitate the march of the 
men to the assembly area ; and the Royal Engineers 
attached to the Brigade blew twenty-six craters in No 
Man's Land to accommodate the leading waves of the 
attack. By 2 a.m. on the morning of Easter ^^ •/ ^ 
Monday, 9th April, all four battalions of the 
Brigade were in position. 

Zero hour was at 5.30 in the morning. At 4 a.m. 
a drizzle began which changed presently to drifts of 
thin snow. It was intensely cold, and it was scarcely 
half-light, so the troops waiting for the signal saw before 
them only a dark mist flecked with snowflakes. But at 
the appointed moment the British guns broke into such 
a fire as had not yet been seen on any battleground on 
earth. It was the first hour of the Somme repeated, 
but tenfold more awful. As our men went over the 


parapets they felt as if they were under the protection 
of some supernatural power, for the heaven above them 
was one canopy of shrieking steel. There were now no 
enemy front trenches ; there were no second-line 
trenches ; only a hummocky waste of craters and 
broken wire, over which our barrage crept relentlessly. 

The great deeds of that day are known to all : how 
the Canadians at a bound reached the crest of Vimy ; 
how the 15th Division carried the Railway Triangle and 
Feuchy ; how the fortress of the Harp fell to the 3rd 
Division ; how Telegraph Hill fell to the 14th and 
Observation Hill to the 12th, and Neuville-Vitasse to 
the 56th. We are here concerned with only one part of 
the battle — ^the doings of the 9th Division, and especially 
of the South African Brigade. 

At zero hour our barrage opened fifty yards in front 
of the first German trenches, and under its cover the 
3rd and 4th South African regiments advanced to the 
attack. On the left " C " Company (Lieutenant Smith) 
and " D " Company (Captain Reid) of the 4th led, 
followed by " A " Company (Captain Grady) and 
" B " Company (Lieutenant Morrison). On the right 
" A " Company (Captain Vivian) and " D " Company 
(Lieutenant Money) of the 3rd led, followed by " B " 
Company (Lieutenant Elliott) and ** C '' Company 
(Lieutenant Ellis). Close on their heels came the sup- 
porting companies of the ist and 2nd Regiments, and oc- 
cupied some trenches just beyond the German front line, 
as the supporting point to the attack on the first objective. 
The 3rd Regiment, as it crossed the parapet and moved 
over No Man's Land, met with heavy machine-gun fire 
on its right flank, and suffered many casualties, includ- 



■•••■v<- •", 



ing Lieutenant Burrows killed, and Lieutenants Elliott, 
Money, Hyde, Gray, Thomas, Van Ryneveld, and Lee 
wounded. Our barrage, however, was perfect, and the 
skilful use of smoke shells blinded the enemy's vision. 
In thirty-four minutes the Black Line was reached. The 
4th Regiment on the left had fewer losses, though its 
leading companies had some casualties from approach- 
ing too close to our own barrage. The " mopping-up" 
detachments, consisting of fifty men from the 4th Regi- 
ment, two platoons from the ist, and two platoons from 
the 2nd, reached the trenches with the first wave, and 
cleared out the dug-outs, taking many prisoners, and 
meeting with little resistance. 

At 7.30 the advance was continued towards the 
Blue Line, supported not only by the artillery, but by a 
creeping barrage of twenty machine guns. At first sight 
this was a far more formidable objective, for it included 
the cutting of the Arras-Lens railway, and the attackers 
had to descend a slope where were a number of wire 
entanglements not fully destroyed. It was at this point 
that most of the casualties occurred, for the passes 
through the wire were commanded by snipers on the 
edge of the railway cutting. Once down the slope some 
protection was given by the bank beside the railway. 
Mounting this, our men looked down into the cutting, 
where the enemy were sheltering from our guns in their 
dug-outs. Here there were many machine-gun posts, 
which, being visible to us, were engaged by our Lewis 
guns. There was one awkward incident. The South 
African attack had pushed slightly in advance of the 
26th Brigade on its right, thus causing a gap ; and the 
Germans were able to open machine-gun and rifle fire 


along the railway. Captain Vivian, however, of the 
3rd Regiment, pushed forward some details of the 26th 
Brigade who had joined him, and cleared out the German 
machine gunners and snipers. The Blue Line, which 
lay on the eastern side of the cutting, was then con- 
solidated. Part of it was a veritable fortress, and in the 
cutting itself concrete machine-gun posts had been 
built. By the time the whole Brigade had reached the 
second objective it was just on 10 o'clock. 

The attack on the final objective, the Brown Line, 
was timed to start at 12.45. The ist and 2nd Regi- 
ments took the place of the 3rd and 4th, who became the 
supporting battalions. The ist Regiment was on the 
right, with a strength of 20 officers and 488 other ranks ; 
on the left was the 2nd, with a strength of 20 officers 
and 480 other ranks. Punctual to time the final advance 
began under the same methodical barrage. The German 
wire in the valley just west of the Brown Line was found 
to be very strong and untraversable, except through a 
passage cut by the enemy and a communication trench. 
Had there been serious resistance the attack might have 
been long delayed at this point, but already there were 
signs that the enemy was breaking. Few prisoners were 
found in the trenches, but groups were seen to advance from 
the Green Line and surrender. About 2 o'clock the Brown 
Line was occupied, where the trenches were found in almost 
perfect order, having suffered little from our bombardment. 

The work of the South Africans was now accom- 
plished. General Lambton's 4th Division, about 
3 o'clock, moved up and passed through the 9th Divi- 
sion to the assault of the final Green Line — an opera- 
tion now tried for the first time on the British front. 


Thanks to the admirable training of both divisions, the 
experiment was a brilliant success. Before dark the 
Green Line had fallen, the strong-post of the Hyderabad 
Redoubt was rushed, and Lambton was in Fampoux. 
This was the apex reached on the first day of the battle. 
The right of the XVII. Corps and the left of the VI. Corps 
formed a salient on both sides of the Scarpe, the point 
of which was facing no prepared position nearer than 
the Drocourt-Queant line. 

The record of the 9th Division that day was not 
excelled by any other unit in the battle. All three 
brigades had performed to the full the tasks allotted to 
them. They had taken the strength of a brigade in 
prisoners — 51 officers and 2,088 other ranks ; they had 
taken 7 howitzers, 10 field guns, and 84 machine guns. 
As regards the South Africans, whose advance was 
literally unbroken, the casualties were far less than the 
number of prisoners. The enemy was demoralized 
by our barrage, and then surprised and routed by the 
steady infantry pressure behind it. Seven officers fell- 
Major H. C. Symmes and Lieutenant Hardwich of the 
2nd Regiment ; Lieutenants Godfrey, Burrows, and Lee 
of the 3rd Regiment ; and Lieutenants Hunt and Dor- 
ward of the 4th Regiment. The total casualties were : 
in the ist Regiment, 15 killed and 69 wounded or miss- 
ing ; in the 2nd Regiment, 20 killed and 68 wounded or 
missing ; in the 3rd Regiment, 53 killed and 226 wounded 
or missing ; in the 4th Regiment, 57 killed and 186 
wounded or missing. From dawn to dusk the troops 
were in the highest spirits. In the words of General 
Dawson : " The men are on their toes, and the wounded 
do not want to leave the fighting line." 


Throughout the day the work of the Field Ambulance 
was admirably performed. The advance was so rapid 
that the task of the stretcher-bearers was a heavy one, 
for the distance from the farthest objective to the nearest 
collecting post was more than 3,000 yards. Had the 
weather been jfine, the difficulties would have been great 
enough, but the drizzle and sleet showers soon con- 
verted the battle area into a sea of mud. Nevertheless, 
by working without rest, under the brilliant direction of 
Captain Lawrie, before 6 o'clock that evening all the 
wounded of the Brigade had been collected and evacuated 
by the South African Field Ambulance, who had also 
dealt with casualties from the other two brigades of the 
9th Division, and from the 34th and 4th Divisions. 

The result of the first day of Arras was that all the 
enemy's front positions had gone, and his final position, 
short of the Drocourt-Queant line, had been breached 
on a front of 2J miles. Unfortunately the weather 
became his ally. It changed to intense cold and wet, 
and with the sodden ground it took long to bring up our 
guns. He held us up with machine guns in pockets of 
the ground, which prevented the use of our cavalry, and 
there was no chance of a dramatic coup de grace. The 
infantry could only push forward slowly and methodic- 
ally, and complete the capture of the remains of his posi- 
tion. We had made a breach, a genuine breach, on a 
broad front in his line, but we could not exploit our suc- 
cess owing to the nature of the ground and the weather. 
Our remarkable gains, won at small cost the first day, 
could only be increased by small daily additions, for the 
elaborate preliminaries of Arras could not be improvised, 
and the infantry must wait on the advance of the guns. 


Tuesday, loth April, was spent by the South African 
Brigade in the Blue and Black lines, in cleaning rifles 
and equipment and replenishing ammuni- aj.^:] jq 
tion. The Brigade was then placed at the 
disposal of the 4th Division, and early on Wednesday, 
the nth, orders were received for it to re- a^ -j j^ 
lieve the loth Brigade, which was then hold- 
ing the Brown Line. That day Lambton was attacking 
at noon, and the ist and 2nd South African Regiments 
moved up to a forward post under cover of a ridge 
500 yards behind the Green Line to act in support. The 
attack of the 4th Division gained some ground, but failed 
in its main purpose ; and after dark the ist, 2nd, and 
4th South African Regiments took up a position running 
north-west from Fampoux, with the 3rd Regiment in 
reserve. At that moment the enemy held a line running 
from south to north from Roeux through the Chemical 
Works and the railway station along the Gavrelle road. 
Behind it to the east lay the slopes of Greenland Hill. 

An attack was ordered for the following day against 
this position. The 9th Division was to advance against 
the line between Roeux and the roadside inn which lay 
a thousand yards east of the Hyderabad Redoubt, with 
the 15th Division holding the front south of the Scarpe, 
and the 4th Division to protect the northern flank of the 
attack. There were two objectives — the first being the 
road from the inn to the station ; and the second, the 
Chemical Works and buildings south of the railway, the 
wood called Mount Pleasant, and the village of Roeux. The 
South African Brigade on the right and the 27th Brigade 
on their left were to capture the first objective, after which 
the 26th Brigade would advance south of the railway. 


At 3 p.m. on the 12th the ist, 2nd, and 4th South 
African Regiments assembled in Fampoux. The enemy 
J 7 ^^^ evidently prepared, for though this 
* movement was carried out in file, with inter- 
vals between companies, it was subjected to a heavy and 
steady bombardment, which cost us many casualties. 

The prospects of success were not bright. All three 
brigades of the 9th Division were very tired, having been 
hard at work under shell-fire for three days, and having 
had no sleep for four nights, three of which they had 
spent lying in the snow without blankets and many 
without greatcoats. There was no chance of an adequate 
bombardment, and there was no time to reconnoitre the 
ground. The country between Fampoux and Roeux 
station was perfectly open, and was commanded in the 
south by a high railway embankment and three woods, 
all of them held by the enemy ; while in the north it 
sloped gradually to the inn around which the Germans 
had organized strong-points. It was impossible, there- 
fore, to prevent the movement of troops being observed 
by the enemy. The South African dispositions were 
the I St Regiment on the left and the 2nd on the right, 
with two companies of the 4th in support of each. The 
3rd Regiment was held in brigade reserve. As the dif- 
ferent companies began to deploy from the shelter of 
the houses in the east end of Fampoux they were met 
with heavy machine-gun and rifle fire. 

The attack was timed for 5 p.m., when our guns 
opened fire. Unfortunately our barrage dropped some 
500 yards east of the starting-point, and behind the first 
enemy line of defence, so that the South Africans had a 
long tract of open ground to cover before they could 


^ r J --c < 


come up with it. Our artillery, too, seemed to miss the 
enemy machine-gun posts on the railway embankment, 
which, combined with the flanking fire from the woods 
in the south and the south-east and from the direction 
of the inn, played havoc with both the attacking brigades. 

The result was a failure. A gallant few of the South 
Africans succeeded in reaching the station, a point in 
their objective, where their bodies were recovered a 
month later when the position was captured. For the 
rest, only one or two isolated parties reached points as 
much as 200 yards east of the line held by the 4th Divi- 
sion. But as a proof of the quality of the troops, it 
should be recorded that before the attack was brought 
to a standstill, the casualties of the 2nd Regiment, 
who went in 400 strong, amounted to 16 officers and 
285 men, while the ist Regiment lost 2 officers and 
203 men, and the 4th, 6 officers and 200 men.* Among 
the dead were Captain Grady, who commanded ** A " 
Company of the 4th ; and Lieutenants J. M. Ross, Lees, 
and Porteous. Since the first part of the assault had failed, 
the 26th Brigade, which was waiting to advance on 
Rceux, was not called upon. That night it took over 
the line from the Scarpe to the Hyderabad Redoubt, 
where it linked up with the 4th Division, and the 
South Africans withdrew to the Green Line. They 
were finally relieved on the night of the isth, /. y 
having, in the three days since the 12th, 
suffered 720 casualties. 

In the unsuccessful operations in front of Fampoux 
the Field Ambulance, which had a collecting station in 

* The casualties of the 27th Brigade in this ill-fated action were 
nearly as high as those of the South Africans. 


that village, had a heavy task. The stretcher-bearers 
were under constant shell-fire, and Captain Welsh was 
mortally wounded on the 12th — an irreparable loss to 
the unit. Many of the stretcher-bearers had been 
working without rest for three days, but they continued 
to do their duty till they dropped from sheer exhaustion. 
The work of one man, Private R. W. Nelson, deserves 
special mention. He had carried continuously from the 
morning of the 9th, and was already worn out when the 
attack opened on the 12th. He worked on steadily, until 
he collapsed late in the evening. Nevertheless, he re- 
fused to be relieved, and after a short rest returned to 
his post, and carried seven cases before morning. 

The Brigade was to have no further part in the long- 
drawn-out struggle lasting till far on in May, which the 
failure of the French attack on the Aisne compelled us 
to continue in the Arras area. It was in the Monchy- 
Breton district during the latter part of April. On 5th 
May a composite battalion, consisting of a company from 
each of the ist, 2nd, and 3rd Regiments, was formed under 
the command of Major Webber, and moved to Arras, 
where it was placed at the disposal of the 27th Brigade. 
It took its share in holding the front line till May 14th, 
when it was demobilised. On the 13th of that month 
Sir Edmund Allenby inspected the Brigade, and con- 
gratulated the men on the distinguished part they had 
played in the late battle. In June it was in Arras as 
divisional reserve, and on 5th June two composite bat- 
talions were formed to assist in the attack on Greenland 
Hill. That attack, carried out by troops of the XVII. Corps, 
was so successful that the supports were not called upon, 
and these battalions rejoined their Brigade on the 6th. 


Its numbers had now grown sadly thin. It had 
suffered severe casualties in April, and there had been 
the usual wastage from sickness which is inevitable in 
any force on active service. It was clear that if the 
Brigade was to preserve its identity on the British front 
it must get larger reinforcements than it had received 
in the past. To replace losses, drafts to the strength of 
1,448 had been sent to France between the end of April 
and the end of June, but even with these it was gravely 
under strength. On 30th June the strength of the dif- 
ferent regiments was as follows : ist Regiment, 38 
officers, 680 other ranks ; 2nd Regiment, 37 officers, 
601 other ranks ; 3rd Regiment, 35 officers, 691 other 
ranks ; 4th Regiment, 39 officers, 818 other ranks. 

In July the Brigade moved to the Somme area for 
training, and on the 27th of that month, along with the 
rest of the 9th Division, was transferred to the IV. Corps. 
On the 28th it relieved the 174th Infantry <y 7 o 
Brigade in the Trescault section of the line, 
north of Havrincourt Wood and along the Canal du 
Nord. This was then a quiet region, and beyond a few 
minor raids there was no incident to record. During 
the summer, while the Brigade was in training, the 
weather had been all but perfect ; but by the close 
of July it had broken in a deluge of rain, and August 
recalled the October of the past year on the Somme. 
The great battle had begun in the north, the fight on 
which Haig had placed his highest hopes, and with it had 
begun that epoch of mists and gales and torrents which 
were more fatal to our success than any German tactics. 


(July-November 1917.) 

The Change in the MiUtary Situation — Haig's Plan for Third 
Ypres — The Nature of the Problem — Von Armin's Defensive 
Tactics— The " Pill-boxes "—The Attack of 31st July— The 
Attack of 1 6th August — ^The British Front reorganized — 
The 9th Division enters the Salient — Its " Pill-box " Tactics 
— The Night Assembly — ^The Attack of 20th September — The 
Fall of Potsdam Redoubt — ^The First Objective gained — The 
Second Objective gained — ^The Difficulties on the Left Flank^ 
The Result of the Battle — Individual Exploits — ^The Brigade's 
Losses — ^The Field Ambulance Work — ^The Brigade returns 
to the Salient — Moves to the Belgian Coast — ^The Close of 
Third Ypres. 

WHEN, on the last day of July 1917, Sir Douglas 
Haig launched his attack in the Ypres salient, 
the nature of the war had dramatically changed. 
The great plan conceived for 1917, of which the Somme 
had been the logical preliminary, had proved impossible. 
This was not due wholly or mainly to the failure of the 
ambitious offensive in April at Arras and on the Aisne. 
The real cause was the defection of Russia, for, by 
the failure of one great partner, the old military coher- 
ence of the Alliance had gone. The beleaguering forces 
which had sat for three years round the German citadel 
were wavering and straggling on the East. The war 



on two fronts, which had been Germany's chief handicap, 
looked as if it might change presently to a war on a single 
front. Whatever victories might be won during the 
remainder of 1917, it was now certain that a decisive 
blow could not be delivered. The Teutonic League, just 
when it was beginning to crumble, had been given a 
new tenure of life. Up till then the campaign had been 
fought on data which were familiar and calculable. The 
material and human strength of each belligerent was 
known, and the moral of each was confidently assessed. 
But with the Russian revolution new factors had sud- 
denly appeared out of the void, and what had seemed 
solid ground became sand and quagmire. It was the 
old Europe which waged war up till the spring of 19 17 ; 
but a new Europe had come into being by midsummer 
in which nothing could be taken for granted. Every- 
where in the world there was the sound of things breaking. 
Haig was compelled to protract the fighting in the 
Arras area so long as the French on the Aisne required 
his aid ; but by the end of May he was free to turn his 
attention to the plan which, as early as the previous 
November, had been his main preoccupation. This was 
an offensive against the enemy in Flanders, with the aim 
of clearing the Belgian coast and turning the northern 
flank of the whole German defence system in the West. 
It was a scheme which, if successful, promised the most 
far-reaching results. It would destroy the worst of the 
submarine bases ; it would restore to Belgium her lost 
territory, and thereby deprive Germany of one of her 
most cherished bargaining assets ; it would cripple the 
enemy communications with the depots of the Lower 
Rhineland. But time was the essence of the business. 

(2.097) 9 


The blow must be struck at the earHest possible hour, 
for each week's delay meant the aggrandisement of the 

Haig's first business was to clear his flanks for the 
coming attack, and on the 7th June, by one of the most 
cy perfect operations in the campaign, he won 

^ '* the Messines-Wytschaete ridge at a single 
bound. His next step was the advance east of Ypres. 
The famous Salient had during three years been gradu- 
ally contracted till the enemy front was now less than 
two miles from the town. The Germans held all the 
half-moon of little hills to the east, which meant that any 
preparations for attack would be conducted under their 
watchful eyes. They were very conscious of the import- 
ance of the position, and the wary general who now 
commanded their IV. Army was not likely to be 
taken by surprise. This was Sixt von Armin, who had 
commanded the 4th Corps at the Somme, and had there 
shown himself one of the most original and fruitful 
tacticians on the enemy's side. 

The Battle of Messines was over by the 12th June, 
but for various reasons it was not till late in July that 
the date of the main advance could be fixed. It was 
now more than ever a race against time, for the pre- 
carious weather of autumn was approaching ; and, 
unless the advance proceeded strictly according to time- 
table, it ran a grave risk of failure. The high ground 
east of the Salient must be won in a fortnight to enable 
us to move against the enemy bases in West Flanders 
and clear the coast-line. The nature of the countryside 
made any offensive a gamble with the weather, for the 
Salient was, after Verdun, the most tortured of the 


Western battlefields. Constant shelling of the low 
ground west of the ridges had blocked or diverted the 
streams and the natural drainage, and turned it into a 
sodden wilderness. Weather such as had been experi- 
enced on the Somme would make of it a morass where 
tanks could not be used, and transport could scarcely 
move, and troops would be exposed to the last degree 
of misery. 

The coming attack was much canvassed in Germany 
beforehand, and von Armin, having learned the lesson of 
his defeat at Messines, had prepared his defences. In 
Flanders the nature of the ground did not permit of a 
second Siegfried Line. Deep dug-outs and concreted 
trenches were impossible because of the water-logged 
soil, and he was compelled to find new tactics. His 
solution was the " pill-box.'' These were small concrete 
forts, sited among the ruins of a farm or in some derelict 
piece of woodland, often raised only a yard or two above 
the ground level, and bristling with machine guns. The 
low entrance was at the rear, and the " pill-box " 
could hold from eight to forty men. It was easy 
to make, for the wooden or steel framework could be 
brought up on any dark night and filled with concrete. 
They were echeloned in depth with great skill, and, in 
the wiring, alleys were left so that an unwary advance 
would be trapped among them and exposed to enfilading 
fire. Their small size made them a difiicult mark for 
heavy guns, and since they were protected by concrete 
at least three feet thick, they were impregnable to the 
ordinary barrage of field artillery. 

Von Armin 's plan was to hold his first line — which 
was often a mere string of shell craters — with few men, 


who would fall back before an assault. He had his guns 
well behind, so that they should not be captured in the 
first rush, and would be available for a barrage if his 
opponents became entangled in the " pill-box " zone. 
Finally, he had his reserves in the second line, ready for 
the counterstroke before the attack could secure its 
position. It will be seen that these tactics were admir- 
ably suited for the exposed and contorted ground of 
the Salient. Any attack would be allowed to make some 
advance ; but if the German plan worked well, this 
advance would be short-lived and would be dearly paid 
for. Instead of the cast-iron front of the Siegfried 
area, the Flanders line would be highly elastic, but it 
would spring back into position after pressure with a 
deadly rebound. 

The " preparation " for the battle lasted for the 
greater part of July, and every part of the Salient was 
drenched with our fire. On the last day of the month 
CY , came the advance on a front of 15 miles — 

J -^ ^ ' from the river Lys to a little north of Steen- 
straate, the main effort being that of the Fifth Army, 
under Sir Hubert Gough, on the 7I miles between 
Boesinghe and the Zillebeke-Zandvoorde road. With 
the attack the weather broke. Gough 's purpose was to 
carry the enemy's first defences, situated on the forward 
slope of the rising ground, and his second position along 
the crest. The opening day saw a brilliant success, for 
everywhere we captured the first line, and in many parts 
the second. But the weather prevented the series of 
cumulative blows which we had planned. For a fort- 
night we were compelled to hold our hand, since till the 
countryside grew dryer advance was a stark impossibility. 


The second stage of the Ypres struggle began on 
1 6th August, when the Fifth Army attacked the German 
third position, the Gheluvelt-Langemarck - . 
Hne, which ran from the Menin road along 
the second of the tiers of ridges which rimmed the 
Salient on the east. These tiers, the highest and most 
easterly of which was the famous Passchendaele crest, 
had the common features that they all sprang from one 
southern boss or pillar, the point on the Menin road 
marked 64 metres, which we knew as Clapham Junction, 
and all, as they ran northward, lost elevation. The 
attack, which took place at dawn, made a considerable 
gap in the German third line, but it was very far from 
attaining its main objectives. That day, indeed, showed 
at its best von Armin's new defensive method. The 
weather was in his favour, for the air was thick and 
damp, making airplane observation difficult, and there- 
fore depriving us of timely notice of the enemy's counter- 
strokes. The ground was sloppy, and made tangled 
and difficult with broken woods ; and the whole front 
was sown with " pill-boxes," against which we had not 
yet discovered the proper weapon. The result was a 
serious British check. The splendid courage of the 
Fifth Army had been largely fruitless. Fine brigades 
had been hurled in succession against a concrete wall, 
and had been sorely battered. The troops felt that they 
were being sacrificed blindly ; that every fight was a 
soldiers' fight, and that such sledge-hammer tactics were 
too crude to meet the problem. For a moment there was 
a real ebb of confidence in British leadership. 

Sir Douglas Haig took time to reorganize his front 
and prepare a new plan. He extended Sir Herbert 


Plumer's Second Army northward, so that it should 
take over the attack on the enemy front on the Menin 
road. Sorely tried divisions were taken out of the line, and 
our whole artillery tactics were revised. The ** pill-box " 
problem was studied, and a solution was found, not by 
miraculous ingenuity, but by patient and meticulous 
care. Early in September the weather improved, and 
the sodden Salient began slowly to dry. That is to say, 
the mud hardened into something like the seracs of a 
glacier, and the streams became streams again and not 
lagoons. But the process was slow, and it was not till 
the third week of the month that the third stage in the 
battle could begin. 

For this third stage the 9th Division was brought 
up from the Somme. It arrived at Brandhoek on 
^ 14th September, where it became part of 

^m* 14- gjj. E. A. Fanshawe's V. Corps of Sir 
Hubert Gough's Fifth Army. The next few days were 
spent in careful training for the impending attack. The 
terrain over which the advance was to be made was ex- 
plained to all ranks, and, as before Arras, clay models 
were built and part of the training ground taped off to 
represent the area of assault for each brigade. No divi- 
sion had made a more elaborate study of the *' pill- 
box " problem. Lukin had worked out the subject in 
detail with the brigadiers who were to lead the coming 
assault — General Dawson of the South African Brigade 
and General Frank Maxwell, V.C, of the 27th Brigade ; 
and the division had reached its own conclusions as to 
the failure of our past efforts. The objectives set before 
it had already been attacked fruitlessly more than once, 
and the reason of failure seemed to be clear. The enemy 





came out of holes and dug-outs behind the attacking wave, 
and held up the second wave and isolated the first one. 
Hence Lukin and his brigadiers trained their men to 
stop at every " pill-box," trench, or dug-out, and clear 
out all occupants, the troops behind them passing through 
them to a further attack. This leap-frog system was 
obviously dangerous and difficult against an irregular and 
intermittent line, for if part of the advance stopped the 
whole front might halt. Again, the men in the second 
wave would be apt to halt when they saw the advance in 
front of them cease. Nevertheless, in spite of its diffi- 
culties, it was beyond doubt the only method which 
offered a reasonable chance of success. The 9th Division 
also had its own views about artillery methods. The 
*' pill-boxes " in front of it were carefully reconnoitred 
and located. In the attack it was arranged that the 
field-gun barrage should lengthen on both sides of a 
" pill-box," so that the advancing troops, hugging their 
barrage, might get round its unprotected rear. The 
barrage was to be high-explosive instead of shrapnel, 
for the path of the former could be more exactly noted 
and closely followed. 

The front allotted to the 9th Division was some 
2,000 yards north of the Ypres-Menin road. Through 
its centre ran the Ypres-Roulers railway. On its right 
was the 2nd Australian Division, and on its left the 55th 
Division of West Lancashire Territorials. The 9th 
Division formed the right of the Fifth Army. Its attack 
was to be on a two-brigade front, the South Africans on 
the left and the 27th Brigade on the right, while the 26th 
Brigade was held in reserve. The South Africans were 
disposed as follows : the 3rd Regiment, under Lieu- 


tenant-Colonel Thackeray, on the right, and the ist, 
under Lieutenant- Colonel Heal, in support ; on the left 
the 4th Regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel MacLeod,** 
supported by the 2nd, temporarily under Major Cochran. 
When the first objective had been taken, the two sup- 
porting battalions were to pass through, and attack the 
second and third objectives. 

The British line at the moment lay on the east side of 
the Frezenberg Ridge. The first objective for the South 
Africans was roughly the line of the Steenbeek stream. f 
The second was a line running north and south a little 
west of the junction of the Ypres-Zonnebeke road and 
the Ypres-Roulers railway. This was now the main 
German position, part of the great Langemarck-Ghelu- 
velt line. The final objective, known as the Green Line, 
was very slightly east of the second, and involved an 
advance mainly on the left wing of the attack. The 
purpose was to win the ridge which gave observation 
of Zonnebeke, and which, until it was captured, hindered 
all advance further north. The countryside was to the 
last degree blind and desperate. Not only was there a 
stream to cross, and many yards of swamp to struggle 
through, but the area included some of the most formid- 
able " pill-boxes " on the German front, while in the 
main enemy line stood the Bremen Redoubt, and the 
stronghold made out of Zevenkote village. 

* MacLeod took over the 4th from Christian on 25th April 
when he returned from sick leave. Christian going to the XVII. 
Corps School of Instruction as Commandant. 

■f On some maps this is given as the Hansbeek, or Hannebeek, 
but it is more convenient to keep this name for the larger stream 
which runs by St. Julien. 


The starting-point being what it was, a night 
assembly in such an area was the most intricate of 
problems. On 17th September the South Africans 
moved into the front line, relieving the 125th ^ 
Brigade. Wednesday, the 19th, was a clear, ^ * ^' 
blowing day ; but about ten o'clock in the evening the 
rain began, and fell heavily all that night. During the 
darkness the Brigade was getting into position for attack. 
The black night and the slippery ground made the whole 
operation extraordinarily difficult in a place devoid of com- 
munication trenches and honeycombed with shell-holes. 
The ground was so cut up that it was possible to move 
only by duck-board tracks, and it was hard to get reports 
back from the different units. Nevertheless, long before 
zero hour, the attacking battalions were in their place. 

At dawn the drizzle stopped, but a wet mist remained, 
which blinded our air reconnaissance. At twenty minutes 
to six, preceded by a barrage of high explo- ^^ 
sive and smoke shells, the attacking troops ^ ' 
moved into the desert of mud. In the dim light, obscured 
by smoke, it was impossible to see their objective. The 
advance had scarcely begun when the German barrage 
came down on our old front line, so that the supporting 
battalions had to close up as near as possible to the 
leading troops. 

The right battalion, the 3rd Regiment, had ** A " 
Company, under Captain Vivian, on its right ; " B " 
Company, under Captain Sprenger, in the centre ; and 
** C " Company, under Captain Ellis, on the left ; with 
" D " Company, under Captain Tomlinson, in support. 
Its strength was 20 officers and 617 other ranks. The 
left battalion, the 4th Regiment, had a strength of 21 


officers and 511 other ranks. It had on its left " A" 
Company, under Captain Farrell ; " B " Company, 
under Captain McCubbin, in the centre ; and " C " 
Company, under Major Browne, on its right ; with 
" D " Company, under Captain Gemmell, in support. 
Now was seen the value of their careful training. The 
4th Regiment took the strong-points known as Beck 
House and Borry Farm in their stride, and by half-past 
six had reached their first objective. Seeing the place 
called MitchelFs Farm in front of them, a party went 
through our own barrage and captured it, killing most 
of its garrison. A machine gun across the brook on their 
left flank gave trouble, so a platoon, under Second-Lieu- 
tenant Saphir, crossed the stream and took the German 
post there, bringing back the gun and twenty prisoners. 

In the meantime the left wing of the 3rd Regiment 
had taken Vampir Farm and reached its objective. 
Its right, however, was held up by the position of the 
left battalion of the 27th Brigade, the 12th Royal Scots, 
who, in their area, had encountered the formidable 
redoubt known as Potsdam, which, in addition to other 
defences, included three " pill-boxes." When " A " 
Company and part of " B " Company of the 3rd Regi- 
ment reached their objective they were too far in advance 
of their neighbouring brigade, and were subjected to a 
heavy enfilading fire from Potsdam. Captain Vivian of 
" A " Company immediately organized an attack on 
that point, leading the assault in person, but he, together 
with Lieutenants Coxen and Newbery, was killed. 
Captain Sprenger of " B " Company then collected 
all the men he could, both from the 3rd Regiment and 
the I St, and with two Lewis guns and one machine gun 



he advanced by rushes from shell-hole to shell-hole 
against the redoubt. This gallant attack, combined with 
the pressure of the 27th Brigade from the west, brought 
about the fall of the place. The enemy was seen bolting 
south towards the Ypres-Roulers railway line, and in a 
quarter of an hour the fort was in our hands. 

A halt was called for an hour before the attack on 
the second objective. After passing Potsdam it had been 
arranged between Dawson and Maxwell, with Lukin's ap- 
proval, that the area of the South African Brigade would be 
extended to the right till it included the northern bank of 
the railway. This made it important to clear that northern 
bank. Second- Lieutenant Lawrence of the ist Regiment 
had accordingly been sent forward as soon as the attack 
began, and had met with no opposition till he came 
under machine-gun fire on the west side of Potsdam. 
Finding no troops near him, he retired till he fell in 
with some derelict tanks, when he turned south-east and 
reached the railway. Here he found some South Africans, 
who had become separated from the rest, clearing a 
dug-out on the south side of the line. Going eastward he 
found a large dug-out, where he took twenty German pris- 
oners and captured three machine guns. He then found 
touch with the 12th Royal Scots, which had been his 
main object, and rejoined his battalion before the second 
stage of the battle began. 

Just previous to the opening of this stage Lieutenant- 
Colonel Heal of the ist Regiment saw some men of the 
ist and 3rd Regiments, headed by Sergeant Frohbus^ 
advance through our own barrage against a large ** pill- 
box '* immediately on their front. It was a place which 
would give trouble in the next advance, so he joined the 


party and took command. On calling on the inmates of 
the " pill-box '' to surrender, some thirty or forty came 
out, but the remainder declined to move. All the loop- 
holes and openings of the structure were closed, but a 
certain **Mike" Fennessy of the 3rd Regiment, a Johannes- 
burger whose past career had been largely outside the 
confines of the law, managed to get a bomb either through 
a ventilator in the roof or through a window which had 
been blown open by a grenade. This set fire to the 
wood lining, and the garrison broke out and were shot 
down. Four machine guns were captured in the place.* 
The doings of this Johannesburger are a comment on 
the value of the scallawag in war. As the shepherd said 
to Dr. John Brown about his dog : " There was a deep 
sariousness about him, for he could never get eneuch o' 
fechtin'." Twice in former battles he had gone over 
with the first wave, and when their work was done 
managed to continue with their successors. At Arras he 
actually finished the day with a wholly different division, 
which he found had the farthest to go. 

The 3rd and 4th Regiments now remained at the first 
objective and consolidated the ground, and the two 
supporting battalions at 7 a.m. moved against the 
second objective, the main Langemarck-Gheluvelt line. 
The I St Regiment was on the right with a strength of 
20 officers and 546 other ranks, and the 2nd on the left 
with a strength of 20 officers and 566 other ranks. The 
task of the ist Regiment was easy, and it advanced 
smoothly towards its second objective. At 7.50 Colonel 
Heal was able to report that his section of the main 

* Private C. E. Fennessv was awarded the Military Medal for 
this exploit. 


German line had been taken. The 2nd Regiment, how- 
ever, on his left, had a heavier duty. Mitchell's Farm 
had been previously taken by the 4th, but the enemy v^as 
still holding Waterend Farm, and from beyond the 
stream v^as galling their flanks with machine-gun and 
rifle fire from the high ground at the place called Tulip 
Cottages and Hill 37 — all in the area of the 55th Division. 
Before them, too, lay the strong Bremen Redoubt and 
the fortified village of Zevenkote. Nevertheless, the 
Bremen Redoubt and Zevenkote were carried, and with 
them the second German position. But the situation 
on his left made Major Cochran uneasy. The men of 
West Lancashire were held up by the enemy at Hill 37, 
and the South Africans had therefore an exposed flank. 
He extended his left, and captured Waterend Farm, to- 
gether with three machine guns and seventy prisoners, and 
thereby found touch with the 55th Division, and formed 
a defensive flank. It was not till the afternoon that 
the Lancashire troops gallantly stormed Hill 37, which 
enabled the South African left to advance to the Green 
Line, the final objective, where they held a position 
consisting mainly of a string of shell-holes. 

Meantime there was no word of von Armin's usual 
counterstroke. The troops against us were some of 
the best in the German Army, part of the 2nd Guard 
Reserve. But the speed and fury of the advance 
of the 9th, the accuracy of their artillery barrage, and 
the skill with which they accounted for " pill-box " 
after *' pill-box *' had paralyzed the enemy. During 
the morning there seemed to be a concentration for a 
counter-attack near Bostin Farm, but this was dispersed 
by our guns. Only small parties moving from shell- 


hole to shell-hole advanced, and these never came nearer 
than 800 yards. By the evening of that day on nearly 
all the British front of attack the final objectives had 
been reached. The 9th Division had carried theirs in 
the record time of three hours. 

That day's battle cracked the kernel of the German 
defence in the Salient. It showed only a limited ad- 
vance, and the total of 3,000 prisoners had been often 
exceeded in a day's fighting ; but every inch of the 
ground won was vital. Few struggles in the campaign 
were more desperate or carried out in a more gruesome 
battlefield. The mass of quagmires, splintered woods, 
ruined husks of ** pill-boxes," water-filled shell-holes, 
and foul creeks which made up the land on both sides 
of the Menin road was a sight which, to the recollec- 
tion of most men, must seem like a fevered nightmare. 
It was the classic soil on which, during the First Battle 
of Ypres, the ist and 2nd Divisions had stayed the 
German rush for the Channel. Then it had been a 
battered but still recognizable and featured country- 
side ; now the elements seemed to have blended with 
each other to make of it a limbo outside mortal experi- 
ence and almost beyond human imagining. Only on 
some of the tortured hills of Verdun could a parallel be 
found. The battle of 20th September showed to what 
heights of endurance the British soldier can attain. It 
was an example, too, of how thought and patience may 
achieve success in spite of every disadvantage of weather, 
terrain, and enemy strength. 

Delville Wood was still for the Brigade the most 
heroic episode in the War. But its advance on 20th 
September must without doubt be reckoned its most 


Second-Lieutenant W. H. HEWITT, V.C, 
2nd Regiment, South African Infantry. 


successful achievement up to that date in the campaign. 
It carried one of the strongest parts of the enemy's 
position, and assisted the brigades both on its right and 
left to take two forts which blocked their way. The 
day was full of gallant individual exploits. The regi- 
mental commanders led their men not only with skill, 
but with the utmost dash and fearlessness. Heal was 
struck by shrapnel, and once buried by a shell ; Thac- 
keray was twice buried ; Cochran was knocked down, 
but rose unhurt, though all thought him killed. *' The 
regimental officers," wrote Dawson on the 22nd, *' were 
an awful sight this morning, haggard and drawn, un- 
washed and unshaven for four days, covered with mud 
and utterly tired, but very happy, and exceedingly 
proud of their men." One N.C.O. and two men of the 
2nd Regiment took seventy prisoners . Another man of the 
2nd Regiment engaged a German in a bayonet duel and 
killed him ; then a second, whom he also killed ; then 
a third, when each killed the other. In dealing with 
the " pill-boxes," individual courage and initiative were 
put to the highest test. It was for such an episode that 
Lance- Corporal W. H. Hewitt of the 2nd Regiment 
was awarded the Victoria Cross. He attacked a " pill- 
box " in his section, and tried to rush the doorway, but 
found a stubborn garrison within, and received a severe 
wound. Nevertheless he managed to reach the loop- 
hole, where, in his attempts to insert a bomb, he was 
again wounded. Ultimately he got a bomb inside, dis- 
lodged the occupants, and took the place. 

On the 2ist there was heavy shelling, but no serious 
counter-attack on the 9th Division, though the S5th, 
on their left, faced and defeated a strong enemy attempt. 


Early on the morning of the 22nd the Brigade was 
relieved from the front line. Its casualties were not 
light. The ist Regiment had 58 killed (in- 
^^22^^" ^^^^^^g Captain J. T. Bain and Second- 
Lieutenant E. Spyker) and 291 wounded 
and missing ; the 2nd Regiment had 61 killed (including 
Captain F. M. Davis, Lieutenant E. D. Lucas, and 
Second-Lieutenant A. B. Cooper) and 224 wounded and 
missing ; the 3rd Regiment had 88 killed (including 
Captain E. V. Vivian, Captain and Adjutant A. W. H. 
McDonald,* and Second-Lieutenants W. J. Blanchard, 
C. F. Coxen, N. Cruddas, N. T. Hendry, J. Newbery, 
W. P. Sweeney, and D. A. Williams) and 283 wounded 
and missing ; the 4th Regiment had 56 killed (including 
Captain D. Gemmell and Second- Lieutenants B. D. 
Trethewy, A. Aitken, and W. G. S. Forder) and 197 
wounded and missing. One death cast a gloom over the 
whole division, and might almost be regarded as a South 
African loss. General Frank Maxwell, the gallant com- 
mander of the 27th Brigade, was shot by a sniper on the 
morning of the 21st. He had won his Victoria Cross at 
Sanna's Post, and had been a familiar figure in South 
Africa as a member of Lord Kitchener's Staff. No one 
who remembers the old days in Pretoria can forget 
Frank Maxwell's boyish daring and humour. There 
was no braver man or better soldier in the British 

In recounting the doings of the Brigade in this 

battle the subsidiary services must not be forgotten. 

The Field Ambulance had the hardest task which they 

had yet faced, for their posts were under constant shell- 

* He was mortally wounded on the 20th, and died the day after. 


fire. In getting back the walking wounded they were 
much helped by the Decauville trains, which were run 
by a section of the South African railwaymen. Owing 
to the impossibility of making dug-outs the wounded, 
as they became numerous, had to be dressed in the 
open, and it was no light task to attend fifty wounded 
men on stretchers with shells dropping around. On 
the afternoon of the 21st, Captain Lawrie was wounded. 
About the same time a squad of Argyll and Sutherland 
stretcher-bearers was caught in a barrage, one being 
killed and another wounded. Sergeant Edgar of the 
South African Field Ambulance behaved with great 
gallantry in going into the barrage and rescuing the 
wounded man. In spite of every difficulty the arrange- 
ments worked with wonderful precision, and no casu- 
alties were ever better cared for than those of the Brigade. 
One small point may be mentioned to show General 
Dawson's careful thought for his men. During a battle 
it was his custom to give every officer and man who 
came into his headquarters a cup of tea with a tot of 
rum in it, and his mess servants entered into the spirit 
of his instructions, and dispensed general hospitality. 
On the night of the 21st, when the four regiments were 
relieved in the front line, the Brigade headquarters mess 
supplied 690 cups of tea, with a staff of one cook and 
one waiter and an equipment of eight teacups and one 

The Brigade was not yet finished with Third Ypres. 

On 24th September it left the battle front, and on 4th 

October it was in the Houlle area, where for five days 

it underwent general training. On loth October the 
(2.097) 10 


9th Division began to concentrate in the forward area 
of General Ivor Maxse's XVIII. Corps with a viev^^ to 
relieving the 48th Division in line. It thus became 
again the right division of the Fifth Army. On 12th 

^ October it entered the support line, along 

the canal bank at Ypres. The battle, in 
the meantime, had moved slov^ly. By 25th September 
we had won all the interior ridges of the Salient and 
the southern pillar ; but we were not yet within strik- 
ing distance of the north part of the main Passchen- 
daele Ridge. To attain this, we must lie east of Zonne- 
beke and the Polygon Wood, at the foot of the final 
slopes. Haig struck on the 26th September in fine 
weather, and took the Polygon Wood and Zonnebeke 
village. On 4th October, the very day fixed for a great 
German counter-attack, he struck again, and by a little 
after midday had gained all his objectives. He broke 
up forty German battalions, taking over 5,000 prisoners, 
and now held 9,000 yards of the crest of the ultimate 

^ ridge. On the night of the 13th the 2nd 

^' and 4th South African Regiments moved up 
to the front line, taking over trenches held by part of 
the 26th and 27th Brigades, which had been engaged 
in that attack on the 12th which was foiled by the dis- 
astrous weather. The relief was very difficult, for the 
whole country had become an irreclaimable bog, and the 
mud was beyond all human description. There was 
intermittent shelling during the 14th and 15th, and 
much bombing from enemy planes. On the night of 
the 1 6th the 2nd and 4th Regiments were relieved by 
the ist and 3rd. For five more days the Brigade re- 
mained in the front trenches, taking part in no action, 


The Third Battle of Ypres. 


but suffering heavily from the constant bombardment. 
Between the 13th and the 23rd of October, ^ 
when it moved out of the Salient, it had 
no less than 261 casualties in killed and wounded. The 
9th Division now relieved the 41st Division in the 
Nieuport area, and remained on the Belgian coast till 
20th November, a period of welcome rest. On isth 
October Lieutenant- Colonel Tanner, who had com- 
manded the 2nd Regiment since its formation, left the 
Brigade to take over the command of the 8th Brigade 
in the 3rd Division. He was succeeded by Lieutenant- 
Colonel Christian. 

In November the struggle at Ypres reached its close. 
On Tuesday, the 6th, the Canadians carried the last 
fragment of the Passchendaele Ridge, and ^ ^ 
wiped out the Salient, where for three years 
we had been at the mercy of the German guns. Sir 
Douglas Haig had not come within measurable distance 
of his major purpose, and that owing to no fault of 
plan, but through the maleficence of the weather in a 
terrain where weather was all in all. He gambled upon 
a normal August, and he did not get it. The sea of 
mud which lapped around the Salient was the true 
defence of the enemy. Consequently the battle, which 
might have had a profound strategic significance in the 
campaign, became merely an episode in the war of at- 
trition, a repetition of the Somme tactics, though con- 
spicuously less successful and considerably more costly 
than the fighting of 19 16. Yet it will remain in history 
as a proof of the superb endurance and valour of the 
armies of Britain, fighting under conditions which for 
horror and misery have not been surpassed in war. 


(November 1917-March 1918.) 

The New German Tactics — ^The Experiments at Riga, Caporetto, 
and Cambrai — The 9th Division moves to Gouzeaucourt — 
The South African Brigade in the Front Line — Hardships of 
this Period — ^The 3rd Regiment disbanded — General Lukin 
leaves the Division — ^The Memorial Service at Delville Wood 
— ^The Brigade again enters the Line — The British Scheme of 
Defence — ^The Quiet before the Storm — ^The Morning of the 
2 1st March. 

DURING the summer months there was a strange 
I quiet on the Eastern front. The German armies 
did not advance, though the way seemed plain 
before them. But they were not idle. Ludendorff had 
seen the opportunity afforded by the downfall of Russia, 
and believed that long before America took the field 
in strength he could deal a decisive blow to the Allies 
in the West. He prepared most patiently for this final 
coup, and turned the whole of his Eastern front into 
one vast training camp, where picked divisions were 
practised in open fighting ; for his scheme demanded 
a high perfection of discipline and individual stamina. 
The history of the war had been the history of new 
tactical methods devised to break the strength of en- 
trenched defences. The Allies had tried repeatedly 



from Neuve Chapelle onward, each time changing their 
plan, and at last at the Somme they seemed to have found 
a method which, though slow and laborious in its work- 
ing, was decisive in its results. But the defection of 
Russia put an end to the hopes of this plan, and once 
again the theory of war was recast. But while Byng 
at Cambrai was feeling his way towards new tactics, 
Germany had already decided upon a scheme. She 
had seen that surprise was essential, and that therefore 
a laboured artillery ** preparation " was out of the 
question. She realized, too, that in order to get the 
full cumulative effect of a blow, division must follow 
division to strike while the iron was hot. If these two 
things — surprise and an endless chain of troops of 
assault — could be found, then it might be possible to 
deal the decisive blow within the narrow limits of time 
still permitted to her. A break here and a break there 
meant only a restricted advance, behind which the 
enemy's front grew solid in time, as concrete hardens 
with exposure. She therefore aimed not at a break- 
through in the older sense, but at a general crumbling. 
Ludendorff's plan was based upon the highly 
specialized training of certain units, and was a legiti- 
mate conclusion from the German use of " storm 
troops." The first point was the absence of any pre- 
liminary massing near the front of attack. Men were 
brought up by night marches just before zero hour, 
and secrecy was thus obtained for the assembly. Again, 
there was no long bombardment to alarm the enemy, 
and the guns began at the moment when the infantry 
advanced, the enemy's back areas being confused by a 
deluge of gas shells. The assault was made by picked 


troops in open order, or rather in small clusters, carry- 
ing light trench mortars and many machine guns, with 
the field batteries close behind them in support. The 
actual mode of attack, which the French called '' infil- 
tration," may be likened to a hand, of which the finger- 
tips are shod with steel, and which is pushed into a 
soft substance. The picked troops at the finger-ends 
made gaps through which others poured, till each sec- 
tion of the defence found itself outflanked and en- 
circled. A system of flares and rockets enabled the 
following troops to learn where the picked troops had 
made the breach, and the artillery came close behind 
the infantry. The men had unlimited objectives, and 
carried iron rations for several days. When one divi- 
sion had reached the end of its strength, another took 
its place, so that the advance resembled a continuous 
game of leap-frog. 

This method was the opposite of the old German 
mass attack, which had seen a succession of hammer- 
blows on one section of front. It was strictly the filtering 
of a great army into a hostile position, so that each part 
was turned, and the whole front was first dislocated and 
then crumbled. This might be achieved by inferior 
numbers ; but a local numerical superiority was aimed 
at to ensure a complete victory by pushing far behind 
into unprotected areas. Advance was to be measured 
not by metres but by miles, and in any case was to 
proceed far enough to capture the enemy's artillery 
positions. Obviously the eflFect would be cumulative, 
the momentum of the attack would grow, and, if it was 
not stopped in the battle-zone, it would be far harder 
to stop in the hinterland. It was no case of an isolated 


stroke, but of a creeping sickness, which might demoral- 
ize a hundred miles of front. Ludendorff was confi- 
dent, for he saw his way presently to a numerical superi- 
ority in the West, and he had devised tactics which 
must come with deadly effect upon an enemy prepared 
to meet only the old methods. But his plan demanded 
immediate success. A protracted battle would destroy 
the picked troops, and without them the new tactics 
were futile. 

The first experiment was made early in September, 
when von Hutier captured Riga. But the true test came 
in October, when Otto von Below, with the VI. German 
Army, broke through the Italian front at Caporetto, and 
drove Cadorna behind the Piave. After that there could 
be no question of the value of Germany's plan. One 
other test, and her certainty was complete. On 20th 
November Byng struck at Cambrai, achieving by means 
of his tanks a genuine surprise. Ten days later came 
the German counterstroke — in two parts. The attack 
on the British left at Bourlon, carried out in the old 
fashion, signally failed. The attack on the British right 
between Masnieres and Vendhuile, following the new 
fashion, as signally succeeded. But the Allied Staffs 
had not yet grasped the full meaning of the new method. 
Caporetto was explained by a breakdown in Italian moral 
and Cambrai by defective local intelligence. Neither 
explanation was sound, and four months later the armies 
of France and Britain read the true lesson in letters of 

On 20th November the 9th Division moved from 
the Belgian coast. The South African Brigade spent 


some days in rest-billets in the Fruges area, engaged in 
j^ training the recruits which had arrived to 

replace the casualties of Third Ypres. On 
the 30th news came of the counterstroke at Cambrai, 
and the battalions were ordered to be ready to move 
at short notice. On the morning of ist December they 
began their long march southward to the accompani- 
ment of a deluge of rain and a sharp east wind. The 
lorries which carried the kits and blankets did not turn 
up, being required for some other purpose by the army 
controlling that area, with the result that the men passed 
three nights of bitter weather without adequate covering. 
Presently came snow, and then a binding frost, and when, 
^ on 3rd December, the Brigade arrived at 

' ^' Moislains, it was after three days of weary 
marches in the worst of weathers and a freezing night 
in the train. 

During the night of the 3rd they were ordered to 
relieve the 2nd Brigade of Guards at Gouzeaucourt, 
nine miles off. The 9th Division became part of the 
VII. Corps, under Sir Walter Congreve. By the night 
of the 4th the 2nd and 4th South African Regiments 
had taken over a section of the front line, with the 
I St in support and the 3rd in reserve. The line now 
held was that established by the Guards Division after 
their brilliant advance on ist December. It consisted 
of a newly-dug trench on the east slope of Quentin 
Ridge, extending from Gauche Wood, on the right, to 
a point near the head of Flag Ravine. No communi- 
cation trenches existed, and in the right battalion sec- 
tion all approaches to the front line were under enemy 
observation. The trenches were neither fire-stepped nor 


revetted, and no dug-outs or shelters existed in the 
forward area. There was also very little wire, the whole 
position having been extemporized during the recent 
battle. The relief was carried through successfully, and 
the commanding officer of a Coldstream battalion wrote 
to Lieutenant-Colonel Christian complimenting the 2nd 
Regiment on its work, adding that the Guards had long 
heard of the South Africans' reputation, and did not 
wish to be relieved by better troops. 

As attacks on this part of the front were 
daily expected, the forward battalions had to detail 
troops to occupy the immediate support trenches as 
" counter-attack forces," while the reserve battalion 
constituted a counter-attack force for the Brigade. The 
next few weeks were filled with strenuous work. Mate- 
rial had to be salved or brought up for the defence of 
the area, a large number of British and German dead 
had to be buried, trenches had to be broadened and 
deepened, and shelters constructed. All through De- 
cember the Brigade was heavily shelled. On the morn- 
ing of the 8th, for example, the 2nd Regiment lost by 
shell-fire Captain E. C. Bryant and Second-Lieutenants 
V. S. Dickerson and G. J. S. Mandy killed, while Second- 
Lieutenants B. Pope-Hennessy and L. Arnold were 
wounded. On the night of the 8th the 2nd and 4th 
Regiments were relieved by the ist and 3rd, the 4th 
becoming the Brigade reserve, while the 2nd formed the 
garrison of the support and reserve lines. During the 
first week the casualties averaged throughout the Brigade 
about thirty a day, which were severe for trench war- 
fare. After that they slackened, but carrying parties at 
night continued to suffer heavily. The Brigade, by 


constant patrolling, maintained its ascendancy in No 
Man's Land, but the German outposts were exception- 
ally vigilant. The worst trial was the weather, which 
was first frost, then thaw, and then about the middle of 
the month a settled frost, which lasted until the New 

These violent changes added to the difficulty of the 
task by causing the trenches constantly to collapse, and 
the severity of the climate told heavily upon troops who 
had only lately been through a long action, and had had 
a peculiarly trying journey from the Belgian coast. 
Moreover, a large percentage of the new recruits 
were less able to withstand hardships than the older 
soldiers. Everything that was possible was done to 
ensure their comfort. Regimental kitchens were con- 
structed so that the men could be supplied with 
hot meals during the night. A Brigade soup-kitchen 
was established in the support line under the superin- 
tendence of the chaplains, where men could receive hot 
soup at any hour. Nevertheless, during this month of 
December, the sickness returns were larger than at any 
similar period during the history of the Brigade. The 
chief malady was trench feet, but by the middle of the 
month rooms for the medical care of this ailment had 
been established at Heudicourt and Fins, and during 
rest periods all the men were sent there for preventive 

On 13th January the Brigade came out of the line, 

and for ten days was billeted in the villages 
j«w. 13, ^£ Moislains, Heudicourt, Fins, and Sorel- 

le-Grand. On the 23rd the 2nd and 3rd 
Regiments moved again into the line to relieve units 


of the 26th Brigade, and the ist and 4th Regiments 
followed the next day. The relief was carried out with- 
out casualties. When the Brigade arrived at Heudicourt 
on 4th December it numbered 148 officers cv 
and 3,621 other ranks. By January 23rd ^ 
its total strength had shrunk to 79 officers and 1,661 
men. On the last day of January all four battalions 
came out of the front trenches, and were ^ 
moved to a back area for a much needed "^ ' ^ ' 
month's rest. 

That month was spent in training for the great battle 
which was now believed to be due in early March. One 
sad change had perforce to be made. It had been re- 
solved to reduce the British divisions from a thirteen 
battalion to a ten battalion basis, and this meant that one 
battalion must disappear from each brigade. General 
Smuts and General Lukin, after consultation with 
General Dawson, decided to disband the 3rd (Transvaal 
and Rhodesia) Regiment, which had received the smallest 
number of recruits during the past twelve months. On 
8th February Dawson visited the battalion to explain 
the decision. He promised that as far as possible 
complete companies would be sent as reinforcements 
to the other regiments of the Brigade, and that every 
assistance would be given to officers and men who might 
desire to transfer to outside units. Accordingly, on i8th 
February, the 3rd Regiment was finally „ , ^ 
disbanded, practically all the officers, 
N.C.O.'s, and men joining the other South African 

In the beginning of March General Lukin relin- 
quished the command of the 9th Division to Major- 


General Tudor, who formerly commanded the divi- 
sional artillery, and returned home on leave. While at 
home he was compelled because of the grave illness of 
his wife to accept the offer of a tour of duty in England. 
He had had more than two years of the most arduous 
service, first as brigadier and then as divisional general, 
and he left to the profound regret of all his colleagues.* It 
was a departure that could not be without its element of 
sadness, especially for the South Africans, for it meant a 
break in that continuity of tradition which they had 
hitherto preserved. They had begun with Lukin, and 
till March 1918 they had been directly or indirectly 
under Lukin. These changes were, as it were, symbolical 
of the change which was coming over the aspect of the 
war. The former things were passing away ; the long 
months of almost static trench warfare were about to 
give place to a stormy season, when all maps had to be 
redrawn and every conception of war revised. It was 
the eve of the ultimate phase which at long last was to 
determine the issue of the campaign. 

* Of Lukin Sir Douglas Haig wrote : " Coming to France in 
April 1916, his skilful command of the South African Brigade 
soon induced me to select him for command of the 9th Division. 
This division he has commanded with skill and ability in many 
hard-fought battles, and I have looked on him as one of the most 
reliable divisional commanders in France." Lieut-Col. Croft in 
his Three Years with the gth Division has this pleasant tale of Lukin 
at Third Ypres : "In the early stage of the night march we met 
the divisional commander, who, like all the divisional commanders 
of the 9th Division, spent most of his time near the front lines. He 
was on his way back, and this good old regimental officer insisted 
on getting off the track and up to his knees in mud while the men 
went by, saying, ' I have a comfortable dug-out to go back to/ 
when we offered to make way for him." 


But before these changes came about one great 
episode in the past record of the Brigade was com- 
memorated. On the 17th February all its ^ , 
regiments, including the vanishing 3rd, took ' '* 

part in a memorial service at Delville Wood. On the 
south side of the place towards Longueval a tall wooden 
cross had been erected, bearing the inscription : "In 
Memory of the Officers and Men of the ist South 
African Brigade who fell in Action in July 1916 in the 
Battle of the Somme." Before this cross, among the 
shattered tree-stumps, the drumhead service was held, 
and around in a square stood details of the four bat- 
talions. First came a lament on the pipes, composed 
by Pipe-Major Grieve of the 4th Regiment. The ser- 
vice was conducted by the chaplains of the English, 
Presbyterian, and Dutch Churches, and the hymns 
included the beautiful Dutch version of the Hundredth 
Psalm. Sir Douglas Haig wrote to General Lukin : — 

" I send you these few lines to greet you and all South Africans 
who meet together on Sunday next in honour of those brave men 
who, at the call of justice and humanity, came from a distant 
continent to fight and die for the principles they held sacred. 
The story of the great struggle of July 1916 for the ridge on which 
Delville Wood stands, when South Africa played so conspicuous 
a part, will live for all time in the history of our Empire — a per- 
petual witness to the strength of those common ideals which bind 
together all British people. The task of those who fell in Delville 
Wood and by their gallant death made desolation glorious, has 
not yet been completed ; but I feel confident that those who 
remain will see to it that their blood shall not have been shed in 

It was a clear day of frost and bright sunshine, and 
in the pause of the hymns, like the sound of breakers 


heard afar off on a coast, came the drone of airplanes 
overhead, and the echo of the now distant guns. That 
ceremony was something more than a commemoration 
of a great thing in the past. It was a sacrament taken 
in preparation for a still greater test of manhood now 
impending. For before the next month had closed, the 
enemy flood had once again poured over the wastes of 
Delville, and the flower of the South Africans had fallen 
in a new Thermopylae. 

Early in March the Brigade moved up to the front 
area, and on the night of the 12th began to take over 
^ , from the ii6th Brigade of the 39th Division 
* the sector east of Heudicourt. Ever since 
the close of 19 17 the Allied Command in the West had 
been conscious that the situation had altered. The Ger- 
mans were able now to resume the offensive at their will, 
and the next phase of the campaign must see the Allies 
on their defence. Haig and Petain were aware that large 
reinforcements could be brought from the East, which 
would give Ludendorff a numerical superiority until 
such time as the Americans arrived to redress the 
balance. Nevertheless, the general temper of the 
armies of France and Britain was one of confidence. 
At the worst they believed that they would have to 
face a small preponderance in numbers ; but they had 
faced greater odds at First Ypres and Verdun, and had 
held their ground. Let the enemy attack and break his 
head against their iron barriers. He would only be the 
weaker when the time came for their final advance. 

But certain wiser heads among both soldiers and 
civilians were uneasy. They knew that the German 


Staff would make a desperate effort to secure a decision 
while they still held their opponents at a disadvantage. 
The German defence had been conducted in a long- 
prepared fortified zone ; the battles of 1917 had given 
us a new line, in parts only a month or two old. How, 
it was asked, would we fare against a resolute assault ? 
Worst of all, we were deplorably short of men. Haig 
had not received during 1917 the minimum levies he 
had asked for, and had been compelled to put into the 
line of battle men imperfectly trained, and to strain 
good divisions to breaking point. There were other 
drawbacks which bore specially hard upon the British. 
Up to January 19 18 their right wing had been Sir Julian 
Byng's Third Army. Before the middle of that month 
the Third Army was moved a little farther north, and 
the place on its right taken by Sir Hubert Gough's 
Fifth Army from the Ypfes area, which replaced the 
French in front of St. Quentin. About the 20th the 
Fifth Army extended its right as far south as Barisis, 
across the Oise, thus making itself responsible for a 
line of 72,000 yards. 

For this new duty Haig had not received propor- 
tionate reinforcements. He had now a front of 125 miles, 
and he did not dare to weaken his north and central 
sections, where, in the case of an attack, he had but little 
room to manoeuvre. So he was compelled to leave the 
Fifth Army on his right in a condition of perilous weak- 
ness. Gough on his forty-mile front had no more than 
eleven divisions in line, and three infantry and two 
cavalry divisions in reserve. His right three divisions 
were holding 30,000 yards — an average of one bayonet 
to the yard, while the German average was four. 


There was the further handicap that the Germans 
from their position inside the great saHent in the west 
could concentrate with ease a force of attack, and until 
the actual assault was made the Allied Command would 
not know on which side of the salient the blow would 
fall. For LudendorfFs dispositions would threaten the 
French in Champagne as much as the British at St. 
Quentin. There was still no centralized command, 
though the Versailles Council provided something in 
the nature of a unified Staff. Hence it would not be 
easy to arrange for co-operation with Petain and for 
the support of French reserves till the battle had de- 
veloped, for the French commander would not unreason- 
ably desire to keep his reserves at a point where they 
could be used with equal facility for St. Quentin or 
Champagne. Yet it was to French support that Gough 
must look in the first instance, since the available British 
reserves had been allotted to Byng, and it would take 
time to bring troops from Plumer and Home in the 

The British Command attempted to atone for its 
weakness in numbers by devising defences of excep- 
tional strength. In front, along the ground held by Byng 
and Gough, lay the '* forward zone " organized in two 
sections — a line of outposts to give the alarm and fall 
back, and a well-wired line of resistance. In both were 
a number of skilfully placed redoubts armed with 
machine guns, and so arranged that any enemy advance 
would be drawn on between them, so as to come under 
cross fire. The spaces between the redoubts were to 
be protected by a barrage of field guns and corps heavy 
guns. The line of resistance and the redoubts were 


intended to hold out till the last, and to receive no support 
from the rear, except for such counter-attacks as might 
be necessary. The purpose of this " forward zone '' was 
to break up an advancing enemy, and the principle of 
its organization was " blobs *' rather than a continuous 

Behind the " forward zone," at a distance of from 
half a mile to three miles or more, came the ** battle 
zone," arranged on the same plan, except that it had no 
outposts. It was a defence in depth, elaborately wired, 
and studded with strong-points. A mile or two in its 
rear lay the third and final defensive zone, which in 
March was little more than a sketch. The theory of the 
system was that the " forward zone " would break up 
the cohesion of any assault, and that the " battle zone " 
would be impregnable against an attack thus weakened. 
Consequently the alternative positions in the rear — the 
third zone and the Peronne bridgehead — were not 
serious defences. Considering the small number of 
men available, it was not possible to provide any further 
safeguards in the time. On the " battle zone " rested 
the hope of resistance for the Third and Fifth Armies. 
If it failed to stand, the situation would be grave indeed, 
for there were no prepared defences to fall back upon, 
and no immediate hope of reserves. 

The 9th Division formed the extreme left of the Fifth 

Army, with, on its right, the 21st Division under Major- 

General David Campbell ; and on its left the 47th 

(London Territorial) Division under Major-General Sir 

G. F. Gorringe — the right flank of Byng's Third Army. 

The 9th held its front with two brigades, the 26th on the 

left and the South Africans on the right, with the 
(3,o«) n 


27th in reserve. The South African sector covered 
some 2,000 yards from just north of Quentin Redoubt 
to just south of Gauche Wood. The Brigade was dis- 
tributed in depth — that is to say, it was responsible not 
only for the front line, but for all other trench lines to 
the depth of about a mile. This made it impossible for 
it to man the entire length of its trenches, so its front 
was held by a series of posts placed at key positions, and 
so arranged as to enable their occupants to cover the 
whole ground with their fire. As the hour of attack 
approached, the " forward zone " was held by the 2nd 
Regiment on the right and the ist on the left, with the 
4th Regiment in reserve in the " battle zone.'* 

To understand the battle which followed, it is neces- 
sary to examine more closely the nature of the Brigade's 
position. The country around Gouzeaucourt is more 
deeply cut than most of the tableland, with small valleys 
and ravines running north by east. The South African 
" forward zone " lay west of the village of Villers-Guis- 
lain, and was separated from it by a well-defined hollow. 
The outpost line had two important points — Quentin 
Redoubt on the north, garrisoned by a company of the 
I St Regiment ; and Gauche Wood on the south, held 
by a company of the 2nd Regiment. The line of resist- 
ance ran from near the point called Chapel Crossing on 
the railway, along the west side of the Gouzeaucourt 
valley, and along the east side of the ruins of Gouzeau- 
court. The " battle zone " began about the same point, 
and its first line, following the high ground west of the 
valley, curved round the western end of Gouzeaucourt. 
The reserve line of this zone lay some three-quarters of a 
mile farther west, from Chapel Hill along the eastern 

^^^v ^.*A ^'#v^"W.r ■■■■ 



slope of the ridges north of Revelon Farm. This was 
known to the Brigade as the Yellow Line. A few hundred 
yards farther back, on the western slopes of the same 
ridges, lay the Brown Line, the final line of the '' battle 
zone." Three miles in the rear lay what was known as 
the Green Line, the third zone of defence, which, as 
we have seen, was still in embryo. Apart from the posts 
in the " forward zone," the specially fortified areas of 
resistance for the 9th Division were — for the 26th Bri- 
gade, Gouzeaucourt village and the place called Queen's 
Cross, south-east of Gouzeaucourt ; and for the South 
Africans, Revelon Farm, and, should that fail, the village 
of Heudicourt. 

The first weeks of March saw the dry, bright weather 
of a Picardy spring. As early as the 14th our airplanes 
reported a big concentration well back in ^ , 
the enemy's hinterland, and the Third and ^' 

Fitth Armies were warned of an approaching battle. 
The troops on our front waited on the future with com- 
posure. No one, perhaps, either in France or Britain, 
realized how much Germany was prepared to stake on 
this, her last blow, or the immense asset which her new 
tactics gave her. They did not know that LudendorfF 
had promised his country absolute and complete victory 
at the cost of a million and a half losses, and that she had 
accepted the price. Many raids undertaken during these 
days established the arrival of fresh enemy divisions in 
line ; but they gave us no notion of the real German 
strength. One fact however we learned — that Thursday, 
the 2ist March, was the day appointed for the attack. 

The last eight days were the quietest which the South 
African Brigade had ever known in the front line, and 


they had scarcely a casualty. On Tuesday, the igth, 
the weather broke in a drizzle, but it cleared on the 
Wednesday, with the result that a thick mist was drawn 
out of the ground and muffled all the folds of the downs. 
That day was spent in an eerie calm, like the hush \ 
which precedes a storm. When the sun set, the men in 
the front trenches were looking into heavy fog, which 
grew thicker as darkness fell. There was no warning 1 
of any enemy movement, scarcely even a casual shell 
or the sputter of outpost fire. 

About 2 a.m. on the morning of the 21st word was 
passed along our lines to expect an assault. The " for- 
^ , ward zone " was always kept fully manned ; 
' but at half-past four the order went out to 
man the " battle zone." Still the same uncanny silence 
held, and the same clinging fog, under cover of which 
the Germans were methodically pushing up troops into 
line, till by dawn on the fifty odd miles of front between 
Croisilles and the Oise they had thirty-seven divisions 
within 3,000 yards of our outposts. Then, precisely at 
a quarter to five, the whole weight of their many thou- 
sand guns was released on the British forward and battle 
zones, headquarters, communications, and artillery posts, 
the back areas specially being drenched with gas, which 
hung like a pall in the moist and heavy air. Ludendorff 
had flung the dice for victory. 



(March 21-27, 1918.) 

The German Assault— The Fight at Gauche Wood— The Brigade 
Right Flank turned— The Fight for Chapel Hill— The Brigade 
in the Yellow Line — ^The Fighting of 22nd March — Loss of 
Chapel Hill and Revelon Farm — ^The Withdrawal to the Green 
Line — The Situation on the Evening of the Second Day — 
Gough decides to abandon the Peronne Bridgehead — ^The 
Retreat of 23rd March — ^The Dangerous Position of the 9th 
Division — General Tudor's Instructions to Dawson — ^The 
Brigade retires to Marrieres Wood — ^The Fight of Sunday 
the 24th — The Brigade cut off — Death of Lieutenant-Colonel 
Heal — ^The Last Stand — ^The End of the Brigade — The Splen- 
dour of the Achievement — Its Value to the British Defence. 

OUR artillery replied to the German barrage as well 
as it might ; but no gunner or machine gunner 
or observer could see fifty yards before him. 
Under the cloak of the mist the vanguards of the enemy 
were everywhere cutting the wire and filtering ^ , 
between the Allied strongholds. The infantry 
attack was timed differently along the front, in parts 
beginning as early as eight o'clock, but by ten in the 
morning it was general. The garrisons of the outposts, 
beaten to the ground by the bombardment and struggling 
amid clouds of gas, were in desperate case. In the 



thick weather the enemy was beyond the places where 
the cross-fire of machine guns might have checked 
him long before the redoubts were aware of his presence. 
The first thing which most of the outposts knew was that 
the Germans were in their rear, and they were over- 
whelmed before they could send back warning. Even 
when they had longer notice, the S.O.S. signals were 
everywhere blanketed by the fog. Presently the bulk 
of the outpost line was gone, and the enemy was well 
into our forward zone. There the line of resistance 
held on gallantly for hours ; and long after the main 
battle had swept beyond it, messages continued to be 
received from odd posts, until that silence came which 
meant destruction. The havoc wrought among our 
communications kept the battle zone in the dark as to 
what was happening in front. Often, too, in those 
mad hours of fog, our guns received their first news of the 
assault from the appearance of German infantry on flank 
and rear. A little after eleven the brume lightened, 
and it was possible to see something of the landscape 
to the east. With the lightening came the German 
airplanes, flying low to attack with machine guns our 
troops and batteries. The men in the battle zone waited 
with anxious hearts till the shock of the assault should 
reach them. 

We have seen that the main outposts of the forward 
zone held by the South African Brigade were Quentin 
Redoubt and Gauche Wood. At the first, where a 
company of the ist Regiment was stationed, there was 
no attack. The main enemy shock in that area fell 
upon the left Brigade of the 21st Division, and " B '* 
Company of the 2nd South Africans in Gauche Wood. 

The snadea spocte snow the ground g«4r\ed 
by (he enemy on March 7} , |K« iwe 
thade the fronU to which th« Germans 
advanced on the 37nd and fSrd 

The Somme Retreat. 


This company was under the command of Captain 
Garnet Green, an officer of the most proven courage 
and coolness, whose doings at Delville Wood I have 
already recounted. He had three strong-points inside 
the wood and one in the open on the south-west side ; 
there were also in the wood two machine guns and a 
detachment of the Brigade Trench Mortar Battery under 
Lieutenant Hadlow. Under cover of the fog the enemy 
worked his way into the wood from the east. Second- 
Lieutenant Kennedy fought his machine-gun till all 
his team were killed or wounded, and he himself was 
wounded and taken. About 10.15 Captain Green re- 
ported that the Germans were in the wood, but that the 
strong-points were intact. Presently the enemy began 
to creep in from the north, and the two posts in the 
eastern half, under Lieutenant Bancroft and Lieutenant 
Beviss, were overpowered. Bancroft and most of his 
men fell, and the rest were wounded and captured, 
with the exception of one who rejoined company head- 
quarters. Beviss, with nearly half his garrison, succeeded 
in cutting his way through and reaching Captain Green. 
The latter, finding that the enemy was on three sides 
of him in overpowering numbers, withdrew the garrison 
of the third post in the wood to join the fourth post 
in the open ground to the south-west. Every yard was 
fiercely contested, and, since the Germans exposed 
themselves recklessly, they lost heavily from Green's 
Lewis guns and rifles. They attempted to dig them- 
selves in on the western edge of the wood, but our fire 
was too strong for them and they fell back in confusion 
into cover. 

The situation was now clear to General Dawson. 


He directed the fire of all the guns at his disposal on 
Gauche Wood. Further, before midday the mist had 
lifted and the garrison of Quentin Redoubt on the north 
were able to open a heavy flanking fire on the advancing 
enemy. Throughout the rest of the day Green, with his 
little band, was able to maintain his position on the 
western and south-western skirts of the wood. The 
situation, however, had become very serious farther 
south. At the first rush the Germans had forced back 
the left Brigade of the 21st Division and taken the 
cluster of ruined buildings called Vaucellette Farm. 
This they used as an assembly position for extending 
their attacks. The right flank of the South African 
Brigade at Gauche Wood was therefore wholly exposed, 
and by the early afternoon the enemy had worked his 
way more than a mile eastward, reaching the slopes of 
the little height called Chapel Hill. 

Dawson was in a serious quandary. He had his line 
intact, except for the single point of Gauche Wood, 
which was an outpost of his forward zone ; but with 
the enemy on Chapel Hill not only was the whole for- 
ward zone turned, but the first part of the battle zone, 
for this eminence commanded all the trench system in 
what was known as the Yellow Line. The front had 
now a singular formation, running back sharply from 
the extreme point of Quentin Redoubt in the north- 
east, by the west side of Gauche Wood to the north 
side of Chapel Hill, which itself was in the area of the 
2ist Division. The two forward battalions of the South 
Africans, the ist and the 2nd, were most gravely men- 
aced. After midday came worse news, for the enemy 
was reported to be as far west as Genin Well Copse. 


x\t all costs it was necessary to recapture Chapel Hill,* 
so " A " Company of the 2nd Regiment, which had 
been reserved for a counter-attack, was sent early in 
the afternoon to strengthen the right flank. They 
found the Germans holding the trenches on the north 
ridge of the hill, and could make no further progress. 
Meantime the 4th Regiment, which, as we have seen, 
was manning the battle zone, was able to bring flanking 
fire to bear on the Germans at Genin Well Copse, and 
this, aided by a detachment of machine gunners at 
Revelon Farm, stayed further enemy progress on the 

At 3.30 the 2nd Regiment reported that the Germans 
were concentrating in large numbers south-west of Vau- 
cellette Farm for a further attack. It was difficult to 
check them with artillery, for the guns of the Brigade 
at the time were covering not only their own front, but 
600 yards of that of the 21st Division. At half-past five 
Lieutenant-Colonel MacLeod, commanding the 4th Regi- 
ment, was ordered to send a company to retake Chapel 
Hill. " A " Company, under Captain Bunce, was de- 
tailed for the purpose, and by a spirited counter-attack 
they took the crest as well as the trenches on the south 
and south-east slopes, and so enabled posts to be estab- 
lished linking up the ridge with Genin Well Copse. 

During the afternoon orders arrived from the divi- 
sion for a general retirement of all forward troops to 
the Yellow Line, and for Brigade Headquarters to fall 
back upon Sorel. The reason for this order lay in the 

* Up till this, Chapel Hill had been in the area of the 21st 
Division, but Dawson that afternoon was ordered to assume 
responsibility for it. 


general position of the battle. On the Fifth Army front 
the Germans had before midday broken into our battle 
zone at Ronssoy, Hargicourt, Templeux, and Le Ver- 
guier, and were threatening the valley of the Omignon. 
Later came news that the same thing had happened at 
Essigny and Maissemy. In the Third Army area the 
forward zone had gone at Lagnicourt and Bullecourt, 
and the fight was being waged in the battle zone north- 
ward from Doignies to the Sensee. Against 19 British 
divisions in line Ludendorff had hurled 37 divisions as 
the first wave, and before the dark fell not less than 64 
German divisions had taken part in the battle — a number 
much exceeding the total strength of the British Army 
in France. In such a situation the Flesquieres salient 
could not be maintained, though it had not been seri- 
ously attacked, and Byng's withdrawal from it meant a 
corresponding retirement by the 9th Division, which, 
except for Gauche Wood, had yielded nothing. 

Accordingly during the evening and early night the 
South African Brigade fell back from the whole forward 
zone to the Yellow Line, the reserve position of the 
battle zone. The general line of the railway east of 
Gouzeaucourt was held up till 2 a.m. on the 22nd, and 
n/r h by 5 a.m. the retirement was complete. 
During the night the left brigade of the 21st 
Division carried out a counter-attack, and re-established 
itself in the Yellow Line. By dawn on the 22nd the 
following was the disposition of the South Africans. 
On the left the ist Regiment held the Yellow Line with 
three companies, one platoon of each in the front line, 
and two in support. Its fourth company was in the 
Brown Line, the last line of the battle zone system. 

Lieutenant-Colonel E. CHRISTIAN, D.S.O., M.C., 
Commanding 2nd Regiment, South African Infantry. 


On the right the 4th Regiment was in the Yellow Line 
and on Chapel Hill with three companies, and the re- 
maining company at Revelon Farm. Two companies 
of the 2nd assisted the 4th in holding the advance posi- 
tion on Chapel Hill, and the remainder of that battalion 
was in the Brown Line. So closed the first day of the 
battle. The Brigade had not received the full shock 
of the German onrush, and its main concern had been 
its right flank, where, by the gallant defence of Gauche 
Wood and the rapid counter-attack on Chapel Hill, it 
had checked for the moment the dangerous enemy infil- 
tration in the area of the 21st Division. 

The fog thickened again in the night, and by the 
dawn of Friday, the 22nd, it was as dense as on the 
previous morning. The first day of the battle had by 
no means fulfilled Ludendorff 's expectations ; but he 
had time to spare, and had still the chance of complete 
victory. From the first light the enemy pressed heavily 
on the whole battle-front, but notably at the danger 
spots which the previous day had revealed in the line 
of the Fifth Army. Once again he made no serious 
attack on the South African Brigade, except on its right 
flank, where he laboured to work his way through 
it and the left brigade of the 21st Division. He had 
brought up a number of light trench mortars, and 
opened a heavy bombardment on Chapel Hill, Genin 
Well Copse, Revelon Farm, and Railton. Dawson had 
a most intricate task, for his headquarters were now at 
Sorel, from which he had no proper telephone com- 
munications ; and it was equally hard to direct the fire 
of our artillery and to obtain news of the fighting. He 
had received during the night the nth Royal Scots 


from the 27th Brigade, which he used in the Brown 
Line in front of Heudicourt. 

Throughout the morning, under cover of a heavy 
bombardment from artillery and trench mortars, the 
Germans gradually closed round Chapel Hill and Reve- 
lon Farm, both of which fell in spite of a most gallant 
defence. It was there that Captain Liebson, M.C., the 
medical officer of the 4th Regiment, was killed. Shortly 
after noon orders came from the division to give up the 
Yellow Line and fall back upon the Brown, the retire- 
ment to be complete by 4.30, and to be ready to retire 
later to the Green Line, three miles in the rear. The 
Green Line was the third defence zone, a partly com- 
pleted line of trenches between Nurlu and Equancourt. 
The hour for the second withdrawal was to be announced 
later, but no message on the subject ever reached Daw- 
son. Each battalion in the Yellow Line was directed 
to leave one section per company as a rearguard on its 
retirement to the Brown Line. The first part was 
carried out successfully. But as soon as the enemy 
noticed the withdrawal he advanced in close formation, 
and presently had reached the Brown Line in the 21st 
Division's area, had outflanked Heudicourt, and was 
occupying the high ground south-west of that village. 
The retirement of the 4th Regiment was only made 
possible by an accurate supporting fire from the 2nd. 
Dawson sent his Acting Brigade Major, Captain Bever- 
ley, about 3.30, on horseback, to give the battalions the 
message about the Green Line, which he succeeded in 
doing, after having his horse shot under him. All the 
troops had their instructions before five o'clock. 

The disposition of the Brigade was now as follows. 


On the right, at the quarry on the east of Heudicourt 
(the old Brigade Headquarters), was " B " Company of 
the 2nd, under Captain Green, with one company of 
the nth Royal Scots and a few details of the 21st Divi- 
sion extending the line on the right. In the centre was 
the 4th Regiment, and on the left the ist Regiment, 
both in the Brown Line. But the situation was full of 
peril, for the Brown Line was hopelessly outflanked on 
the right, and the enemy was moving northwards round 
the south end of Heudicourt. Communication with 
headquarters had become impossible, and a heavy re- 
sponsibility fell upon the junior commanders, who flung 
out defensive flanks and fought rearguard actions with 
the coolness of veterans. While the guns were falling 
back, about thirty enemy airplanes, flying low, kept up 
a continual fire on the teams and also on the infantry 
in the trenches. Everything depended on whether the 
German advance could be stayed till darkness came, 
and under its cover the various units could reach the 
Green Line. 

The Brigade Headquarters were at Sorel, and in the 
dusk the Germans could be seen in great strength mov- 
ing westward south of the village. As our wounded 
and guns were passing through the place it was vital 
to defend it until the retirement was complete. The 
whole countryside seemed to be in flames ; Heudi- 
court was spouting like a volcano, and everywhere was 
the glare of burning stores and bursting shells. Daw- 
son formed up his Brigade Headquarters Staft", and put 
them into the trenches east of Sorel, to give the guns 
and wounded time to get clear. About this time Major 
Cochran, the brigade major, returned from leave and 


resumed his duties — duties which, for the two dayr> 
left to him on earth, he was to perform with a noble 
fidelity. The Headquarters details succeeded in 
arresting the enemy's advance, and, before he had time 
to reconnoitre or to organize an attack, the last guns 
had passed through Sorel, Brigade Headquarters with- 
drawing to Moislains. It was here that Lieutenant M. 
Webb was killed. Only darkness could save the Brigade, 
and the darkness was fast falling. 

The gravest danger was in the south, for any further 
enemy advance there would turn the Green Line. 
Owing to the Germans moving northward behind our 
front it was impossible to keep to the original route of 
retirement, and all three units had to withdraw in a 
northern direction before striking west. The task of 
the I St Regiment on the left was the least difficult. 
Under Lieutenant- Colonel Heal, it fell back upon 
Fins. Lieutenant- Colonel MacLeod, who commanded 
the 4th Regiment, wfts wounded during the afternoon, 
and the remnant, under Captain Bunce, moved along 
the Brown Line to the Fins-Gouzeaucourt road, and 
then westward from Fins. The most difficult operation 
fell to Lieutenant-Colonel Christian of the 2nd Regi- 
ment, but by a series of providential chances he extri- 
cated a large part of the regiment, following mainly the 
direction of the 4th. For " B " Company and its heroic 
commander, Captain Green, there was no chance of 
withdrawal. They were destroyed, fighting to the last. 
The details of the Brigade, to the strength of about 650 
all ranks, had, on the 21st, been encamped at Heudi- 
court under Lieutenant-Colonel Young. Early on the 
22nd they were ordered to fall back upon Nurlu, where. 


together with other 9th Division details, they laboured 
to improve the Green Line. The Brigade in its retreat 
passed through these details, and by about tv^o in the 
morning of the 23rd had reached the Green Line and 
dug a position along the Nurlu-Peronne road south- 
east of Moislains. 

The South Africans v^ere now in divisional reserve. 
Their casualties during the first two days of the battle 
had been about 900 all ranks. Two weak companies of 
the ist Regiment, under Captains Burgess and Ward, 
had become detached in the darkness, and for the next 
L days fought along with the 26th Brigade. Of the 
f 2nd Regiment, Captain Green and Lieutenants Bancroft 
\ and Terry had been killed. Captains Rogers and Stein 
wounded and captured. Lieutenant Beviss was missing, 
and Captains Jenkins and Pearse and Lieutenant Sprenger 
had been wounded. Of the 4th Regiment, all the senior 
officers — Lieutenant-Colonel MacLeod, Majors Clerk and 
Browne, and the Adjutant, Captain Mitchell, had been 
wounded. In the circumstances the withdrawal of the 
Brigade to the Green Line must be regarded as a very 
remarkable feat of arms. For two days they had fought 
with their flank turned, and only the tenacity and cour- 
age of the men and the extreme coolness and daring of 
the junior officers had prevented a wholesale disaster. 
At about five in the evening of the 22nd it might well 
have seemed that nothing could save them. 

While we leave the South Africans secure for the 
moment in the Green Line we must note what hap- 
pened elsewhere that day on the battle-front. Byng 
had been the less heavily engaged, and during the day 
yielded little ground. The enemy's main effort was 


against the Fifth Army, especially at the three critical 
points of the Cologne and Omignon valleys and the 
Crozat Canal. By midday the canal had been lost, 
and early in the afternoon Gough was almost every- 
where in the third defensive zone. By the evening that 
zone had been broken around Vaux and Beauvois. Our 
last reserves had been thrown in, and, save for a French 
division and some French cavalry, now heavily engaged 
on the Crozat Canal, there was no help available for 
the hard-pressed Fifth Army. The gaps could not be 
stopped, so at all costs our front must withdraw. At 
II p.m. that night Gough gave orders to fall back to 
the bridgehead position east of the Somme, a position 
which, as we have seen, was not yet completed. Maxse's 

XVIII. Corps was to retire to the river line ; Watts' 

XIX. Corps and Congreve's VII. Corps were to hold 
the Peronne bridgehead on a line running from Voyennes 
through Monchy-Lagache to Vraignes, and thence con- 
tinue in the third zone to the junction with the Third 
Army at Equancourt. This compelled Byng to fall 
back to conform, and his front ran now in the third zone 
to Henin-sur-Cojeul, whence the old battle zone was 
continued to Fampoux. 

The third zone was nowhere a real defence, and 
presently it was clear that the P6ronne bridgehead was 
little better. During the thick night, while the divi- 
sions of the Fifth Army, now in the last stages of fatigue, 
struggled westward, Gough was faced with a momentous 
decision. He now knew the weight of the German at- 
tack ; his right flank was in desperate peril ; he had 
no hope of support for several days ; and his men strung 
out on an immense front had been fighting without rest 


for forty-eight hours. If he faced a general engage- 
ment on the morrow he might suffer decisive defeat. 
There seemed no course open to him but to abandon 
the Peronne bridgehead, and fall back behind the 
river. It was a difficult decision, for it shortened 
our time for defending the river line and for clearing 
troops and material from the east bank. But the alter- 
native was certain disaster, and beyond doubt in the 
circumstances Gough's judgment was right. Accord- 
ingly, very early on the morning of Saturday, the 23rd 
March, instructions were given to Watts to withdraw 
gradually to the river line, while Congreve, on his left, 
was to take up a position between Doingt and Nurlu. 
The front of the VII. Corps would now just cover 
Peronne on the north, and it would have behind it, 
flowing from north to south, the little river Tortille. 

Saturday, 23rd March, dawned again in fog, and 
from an early hour it became clear that the position 
allotted to Congreve could not be held. ^ , 
That day von der Marwitz began the most ^' 

dangerous movement of all — ^the attempt to drive a 
wedge between the Third and Fifth Armies. Very 
early in the morning he attacked the Green Line, which 
was held by details of the 9th Division. The advance 
was checked ; but the position was clearly untenable, 
and the South African details, under Lieutenant- Colonel 
Young, fell back to Bouchavesnes, where they again 
came under Dawson's orders. 

That day the South Africans were nominally in 
reserve, holding a position in echelon on the right flank 
of the 27th Brigade. But a wavering front, faced by 
preposterous odds, called every man into the fight, 

(8,097) u 


and presently the Brigade was in the front line again 
on the right of the 27th, endeavouring to maintain 
touch with the 21st Division, which was compelled to 
retire by the withdrawal on its right from the Peronne 
bridgehead. During the morning Dawson fell back 
from Moislains, and took up ground about midday on 
the ridge south-west of that village, overlooking the 
Tortille River, where, during the afternoon, he was 
heavily shelled. Once again came the old menace on 
the right wing. The 21st Division, itself outflanked by 
the withdrawal farther south, was again retiring, and 
presently Dawson's flank was in the air, and the enemy 
in the immediate south was more than a mile behind 
his front. He had five tanks as a flank-guard, and he 
endeavoured to fling out posts as a defensive flank across 
the Peronne- Arras road. An oflicer and twenty men 
were sent to occupy the cutting on the summit of the 
ridge overlooking Mont St. Quentin. All afternoon 
the enemy poured down the slopes along the Peronne- 
Nurlu road, and before dark fell he had occupied Mois- 
lains and Haute-AUaines. 

General Tudor visited Dawson in the evening. The 
situation of the whole 9th Division under von der Mar- 
witz's thrust had grown desperate. It was holding an 
impossibly long line, and a gap had opened between its 
left and Fanshawe*s V. Corps in the Third Army, of 
which the enemy had promptly taken advantage, in 
spite of gallant attempts to fill the breach made by the 
47th London Division and a Brigade of the 2nd. On 
its right it was out of touch with the 21st Division ; so 
that that evening it was holding a salient of high ground 
with both flanks hopelessly in the air. There was no 


other course but to fall back, especially as the retirement 
of the 2 1 St Division was by no means at an end. The 
I St Regiment had been moved from the left of the 
South African Brigade to strengthen the right flank, but 
it could not hope to fill the breach, the more as the 
enemy was pressing hard from Moislains against this 
weak spot. 

General Tudor told Dawson that instructions had 
come for the division to withdraw after dark to a posi- 
tion on the line from Government Farm by the east of St. 
Pierre Vaast Wood to the road just west of Bouchavesnes 
which led to Clery. He informed him that Sir Walter 
Congreve had ordered that this line must be held " at 
all costs," and added that he presumed, if it was broken, 
it would be retaken by a counter-attack. These words 
of Tudor's are of importance, for they were Dawson's 
charter for the fighting of the next day. He was also 
bidden keep in close touch with the troops on his right 
— a counsel of perfection hard to follow, for Gough's 
decision on the night of the 22nd involved an indefinite 
retreat westward, and in such circumstances a unit which 
had orders to stand at all costs must inevitably be left 
in the void. Dawson saw his commanding officers. Heal 
and Christian (the remnants of the 4th had now been 
attached to the 2nd), and explained to them the gravity 
of the position. Whoever retired, the Brigade must 

The withdrawal started at 9.45 p.m., and the last 
troops had begun their retreat by 11 p.m. At 3 a.m. 
on the morning of the 24th all were in position in the 
new line. It was not the line which General Tudor 
had indicated, for by this time the left brigade of the 


2 1 St Division was more than a mile westward of that 
front, and if the South Africans were to stand they 
must find ground which, at any rate to begin with, was 
not hopelessly untenable. Dawson decided to occupy 
a ridge some 1,500 yards west of Tudor's line, so that 
by throwing back his right flank he might reduce the 
gap between him and the 21st to a less dangerous 
size. His Brigade Major, Cochran, was sent to pros- 
pect the position while it was still light, and to get 
into touch with the neighbouring Brigadier of the 21st, 
from whom he learned that immediately after dark that 
brigade intended to make a further retirement. In the 
South African withdrawal some of the posts flung out 
on the right flank lost their way, and wandered back to 
the transport lines. They were destined to be among 
the few survivors. During the night touch was ob- 
tained with the 2ist Division, which, after retiring, had 
again advanced. The left flank of the Brigade was in 
touch with a company of the 6th K.O.S.B. of the 27th 
Brigade. The situation on that flank, however, was far 
from secure, for the K.O.S.B. did not know the where- 
abouts of the rest of their battalion or of their brigade. 
Dawson sent out patrols to look for them, but there was 
no sign of them anywhere in the countryside. 

By dawn on Sunday, the 24th, the two regiments of 
the South Africans were holding a patch of front which, 
^ , along with Delville Wood, is the most famous 

^' spot in all their annals. It lay roughly behind 
the northern point of Marrieres Wood, running north- 
east in the direction of Rancourt, a little over two miles 
north-west of Bouchavesnes village. The ground sloped 
eastward, and then rose again to another ridge about 

The Fight at Marri^res Wood. 


1,000 yards distant — a. ridge which gave the enemy ex- 
cellent chances for observation and machine-gun posi- 
tions. There was one good trench and several bad ones, 
and the whole area was dotted with shell-holes. Daw- 
son took up his headquarters in a support trench some 
300 yards in rear of the front line. The strength of the 
Brigade was about 500 in all, composed of 478 men 
from the infantry, one section of the 9th Machine Gun 
Battery, and a few men from Brigade Headquarters. 
The previous day some officers had joined from the 
transport lines, and in consequence the number of 
officers was out of all proportion to the other ranks. 
The 2nd Regiment, for example, with a strength of no, 
had no less than fourteen officers. Dawson's only means 
of communication with divisional headquarters was by 
runners, and he had long lost touch with the divisional 

The South Africans seemed fated to have their 
greatest deeds linked always with some broken woodland. 
So far the proudest names in their record were those 
wraiths of copses, Delville and Gauche. To them 
must now be added a third, the splintered desert which 
had once been the wood of Marrieres. It was a weary 
and broken little company which waited on that hilltop 
in the fog of dawn. During three days the 500 had 
fought a score of battles. Giddy with lack of sleep, 
grey with fatigue, poisoned by gas and tortured by the 
ceaseless bombardment, officers and men had faced the 
new perils which each hour brought forth with a fortitude 
beyond all human praise. But wars are fought with the 
body as well as with the spirit, and the body was break- 
ing. Since the 20th of March, while the men had re- 


ceived rations, they had had no hot food or tea. Neither 
they nor their officers had any guess at what was hap- 
pening elsewhere. They seemed to be isolated in a 
campaign of their own, shut out from the knowledge 
of their fellows and beyond the hope of mortal aid. 
Yet in a sense they were fortunate in their ignorance, 
for only the High Command knew how desperate was 
the position. When Ludendorff on the Saturday night 
announced that the first stage of the great battle had 
ended and counted his prisoners, he did not exaggerate 
his success. It was true that he had not yet broken 
the British line, but he had worn it to a shadow, and 
any hour might see that shadow dissolve. 

The South African position was well placed for 
defence, for it had before it a long, clear field of fire. 
But it was a trap from which there could be no retreat, 
since all the land to the west was bare to the enemy's 
eyes. Dawson's 500, on the morning of the 24th, had, 
each man, 200 rounds of ammunition and a fair supply 
of Lewis gun drums. One section, however, of the 
Machine Gun Battery had only four belts of ammuni- 
tion, and three of the guns with their teams were there- 
fore sent back to the transport lines at Savernake Wood. 

Soon after daylight had struggled through the fog 
the enemy was seen massing his troops on the ridge 
to the east, and about nine o'clock he deployed for the 
attack, opening with machine-gun fire, and afterwards 
with artillery. Dawson, divining what was coming, 
sent a messenger back to the rear with the Brigade 
records. He had already been round every part of the 
position, and had disposed his scanty forces to the 
best advantage. At ten o'clock some British guns 

SUNDAY, THE 24TH. 183 

opened an accurate fire, not upon the enemy, but 
upon the South African Hues, especially on the trench 
where was situated Brigade Headquarters. Dawson 
was compelled to move to a neighbouring shell-hole. 
He sent a man on his last horse, followed by two 
runners, to tell the batteries what was happening, but 
the messengers do not seem to have reached their 
goal, and the fire continued for more than an hour, 
though happily with few casualties. After that it ceased, 
because the guns had retired. One of our heavies con- 
tinued to fire on Bouchavesnes, and presently that, too, 
was silent. 

It was the last the Brigade heard of the British 

Meantime the enemy gun-fire had become intense, 
and the whole position was smothered in dust and fumes. 
Men could not keep their rifles clean because of the 
debris choking the air. The Germans were now some 
750 yards from our front, but did not attempt for the 
moment to approach closer, fearing the accuracy of the 
South African marksmanship. The firing was mostly 
done at this time by Lewis guns, for ammunition had 
to be husbanded, and the men were ordered not to use 
their rifles till the enemy was within 400 yards. He 
attempted to bring a field gun into action at a range of 
1,000 yards, but a Lewis gunner of the ist Regiment 
knocked out the team before the gun could be fired. 
A little later another attempt was made, and a field gun 
was brought forward at a gallop. Once again the fire 
of the same Lewis gunner proved its undoing. The team 
got out of hand and men and horses went down in a 
struggling mass. 


This sight cheered the thin ranks of the defence, 
and about noon came news which exalted every heart. 
General Tudor sent word that the 35th Division, 
which had arrived at Bray-sur-Somme, under Major- 
General Franks, had been ordered to take up position 
1,000 yards in rear of the Brigade. For a moment it 
seemed as if they still might make good their stand. 
But the 35th Division was a vain dream. It was never 
during that day within miles of the South Africans. 
Dawson sent back a report on the situation to General 

It was the last communication of the Brigade with 
the outer world. 

At midday the frontal attack had been held, an attack 
on the south had been beaten off, and so had a very 
dangerous movement in the north. The grass in that 
parched week was as dry as tinder. The enemy set 
fire to it and, moving behind the smoke as a screen, 
managed to work his way to within 200 yards of our 
position in the north. There, however, he was again 
checked. But by this time the German thrust elsewhere 
on the front was bearing fruit. Already the enemy was 
in Combles on the north and at Peronne and Clery on 
the south. The 21st Division had gone, and the other 
brigades of the 9th Division were being forced back on 
the South African left. At about half-past two on that 
flank an officer with some thirty men began to withdraw 
under the impression that a general retirement had been 
ordered. As they passed Headquarters, Major Cochran 
and Captain Beverley, with Regimental Serjeant-Major 
Keith of the 4th Regiment, went out to stop them under 
a concentrated machine-gun fire. The party at once 


returned to the firing-line and were put into shell-holes 
on the north flank. Unhappily Cochran was hit in the 
neck by a machine-gun bullet and died within three 

Dawson, early in the afternoon, attempted to adjust 
his remnant. The enemy now was about 200 yards from 
his front and far in on his flank and rear. Major Ormiston 
took out some twenty-five men as a flank-guard for the 
left, in which performance he was dangerously wounded. 
All wounded who could possibly hold a rifle were 
stopped on their way to the dressing-station, and sent 
back to the front line, and in no single instance did they 
show any reluctance to return. Ammunition was con- 
served with a noble parsimony, and the last round was 
collected from casualties. But it was now clear that the 
enemy was well to the west of the Brigade, for snipers' 
fire began to come from that direction. Unless the 
miracle of miracles happened the limit of endurance must 
be reckoned not in hours but in minutes. For the 
moment the most dangerous quarter seemed to be the 
north, and Lieutenant Cooper of the 2nd Regiment, 
with twenty men, was sent out to make a flank-guard 
in shell-holes 100 yards from Brigade Headquarters. 
The little detachment did excellent work, but their 
casualties were heavy, and frequent reinforcements had 
to be sent out to them. Lieutenant Cooper himself 
was killed by a fragment of shell. 

As it drew towards three o'clock there came a last 
flicker of hope. The enemy in the north seemed to be 
retiring. The cry got up, '' We can see the Germans 
surrendering," and at the same time the enemy artillery 
lengthened and put down a heavy barrage 700 yards to 


the west of the Brigade. It looked as if the 35th Division 
had arrived, and for a little there was that violent re- 
vulsion of feeling which comes to those who see an 
unlooked-for light in darkness. The hope was short- 
lived. All that had happened was that the enemy 
machine guns and snipers to the west of the Brigade 
were causing casualties to his troops to the east. He 
therefore assumed that they were British reinforcements. 

About this time Lieutenant-Colonel Heal, command- 
ing the I St Regiment, was killed. He had already been 
twice wounded in the action, but insisted on remaining 
with his men. He had in the highest degree every 
quality which makes a fine soldier. I quote from a 
letter of one of his officers. " By this time it was evident 
to all that we were bound to go under, but even then 
Colonel Heal refused to be depressed. God knows how 
he kept so cheery all through that hell; but right up 
to when I last saw him, about five minutes before he 
was killed, he had a smile on his face and a pleasant 
word for us all.'* 

All afternoon the shell-fire had been terrific. Bat- 
teries of 7.7 cm., 10.5 cm., and 15 cm. were in action, 
many of them in full view of our men. A number of 
light trench mortars were firing against the north-east 
corner of our front and causing heavy losses. The 
casualties had been so high that the whole line was now 
held only by a few isolated groups, and control was 
impossible. About four o'clock Christian made his way 
to Dawson and told him that he feared his men could 
not hold out much longer. Every machine gun and 
Lewis gun was out of action, the ammunition was nearly 
gone, the rifles were choked, and the breaking-point had 

Lieutenant-Colonel F. H. HEAL, D.S.O., 
Commanding ist South African Regiment. Killed at Marrieres 
Wood, near Bouchavesnes, 24th March 191 8. 


been reached of human endurance. The spirit was still 
uhconquered, but the body was fainting. 

Dawson had still the shadow of a hope that he might 
maintain his ground until the dark and then fight his 
way out. Like all good soldiers in such circumstances 
he was harassed by doubts. The Brigade was doomed ; 
even if the struggle could be protracted till dusk, only 
a fragment would escape. Had he wished to withdraw 
he must have begun in the early morning as soon as the 
enemy appeared, for once the battle was joined the 
position was a death trap. He had orders from the 
division to hold his ground " at all costs " — a phrase 
often given an elastic interpretation in war, but in this 
case literally construed. He wondered whether the 
stand might be of value to the British front, or whether 
it was not a useless sacrifice. He could only fall back 
for comfort on his instructions. As he wrote in his 
diary : ** I cannot see that under the circumstances I 
had any option but to remain till the end. Far better 
go down fighting against heavy odds than that it should 
be said we failed to carry out our orders. To retire 
would be against all the traditions of the service." 

Some time after 4.15 enemy masses appeared to the 
east-north-east of Brigade Headquarters. It was the 
final attack, for which three fresh battalions had been 
brought up, and the assault was delivered in close forma- 
tion. There were now only 100 South Africans, some 
of them already wounded. There was not a cartridge 
left in the front line, and very few anywhere except in 
the pistols of the officers. Had they had ammunition 
they might have held even this last attack ; as it was, it 
could be met only by a few scattered shots. The South 


Africans had resisted to the last moment when resistance 
was possible ; and now they had no weapon. The 
Germans surged down upon a few knots of unarmed 
men. Dawson, with Christian and Beverley, walked 
out in front of a group which had gathered round them, 
and was greeted with shouts of '* Why have you killed 
so many of us ? *' and " Why did you not surrender 
sooner ? '* One man said, ^' Now we will soon have 
peace," at which Dawson shook his head. Before he 
went eastward into captivity he was allowed to find 
Cochran's body and rescue his papers. 

The Brigade had ceased to be. It had surrendered 
— such a surrender as Sir Richard Grenville made, when 
the Revenge fought for a day and a night against the 
fleets of Spain. Less than loo unwounded prisoners 
fell to the enemy ; the rest were killed or crippled or 
lost, all but the little group of details and stragglers 
now in the transport lines. Heal and Cochran were 
dead, MacLeod was wounded, Dawson and Christian 
were prisoners. The rest of the 9th Division, along 
with the remnants of the 21st, were now fighting des- 
perately north of the Somme behind Clery, struggling 
to the line from Hem through Trones Wood to Lon- 
gueval, where the 35th Division and the ist Cavalry 
Division were to come to their aid. It will be re- 
membered that two companies of the South Africans 
had gone astray on the night of the 22nd and had since 
been fighting with other brigades. There were also the 
parties left behind in the Brown Line on that date, 
which had been unable to rejoin their units, and there 
were the posts which Dawson had flung out on his right 
flank on the 23rd, and which had lost their road in the last 


withdrawal. These oddments, along with the details 
and the transport of the Brigade, collected that evening 
half-way between Bray and Maricourt, and on the 
following day were formed into a composite battalion of 
three companies under Lieutenant- Colonel Young. Each 
company represented a regiment of the Brigade, No. i 
being under Captain Burgess, No. 2 under Lieutenant 
Jenner, and No. 3 under Lieutenant G. Smith. The fight- 
ing strength was some 450 rifles. On the 26th they were 
ordered to Dernancourt to report to General t\/i i, (. 
Kennedy of the 26th Brigade. They there 
found the 9th Division holding a line from that village 
to south of Albert, and took up a position in trenches and 
along the railway embankment south-east of the former 
place. This ground they held in spite of furious enemy 
efforts to dislodge them, until they were re- ^ , 
lieved by the Australians on the night of the ' ' 

27th, when the whole division was withdrawn from the 

In all that amazing retreat, when our gossamer 
front refused to be broken by the most fantastic odds, 
no British division did more nobly than the 9th. It 
held a crucial position in the line, and only by its 
stubborn endurance was a breach between Gough and 
Byng prevented. Among the brigades of the 9th, the 
chief brunt was borne by the South African. A great 
achievement is best praised in the language of the 
commanders themselves. General Tudor wrote : — 

" I think everybody should know how magnificently the South 
African Brigade fought. None but the best could have got through 
on the 22nd from the Yellow Line with Heudicourt in the hands 


of the enemy. They were sadly thinned then, only about 900 
rifles all told when they got back, but they left their mark on the 
Hun. The story of the magnificent stand made by the Brigade 
when afterwards surrounded can only be told by those who were 
with it to the last ; but this much is certain, that it was shortage 
of ammunition alone which made the survivors surrender. The 
division will not seem the same again without them, and it was 
they who bore the brunt of the fighting of the 9th on the 21st and 

Here are Dawson's words : — 

" It is impossible for me to do justice to the magnificent courage 
displayed by all ranks under my command during this action. 
For the two years I have been in France I have seen nothing 
better. Until the end they appeared to me quite perfect. The 
men were cool and alert, taking advantage of every opportunity, 
and, when required, moving forward over the open under the 
hottest machine-gun fire and within 100 yards of the enemy. 
They seemed not to know fear, and in my opinion they put forth 
the greatest effort of which human nature is capable. I myself 
witnessed several cases of great gallantry, but do not know the 
names of the men. The majority, of course, will never he known. 
It must be borne in mind that the Brigade was in an exhausted 
state before the action, and in the fighting of the three previous 
days it was reduced in numbers from a trench strength of over 1,800 
to 500." 

Let us take the testimony of the enemy. During 
the German advance, Captain Peirson, the brigade 
major of the 48th Brigade of the i6th Division, 
was taken prisoner. When he was examined at German 
Headquarters, an officer asked him if he knew the 9th 
Division ; for, said he, " We consider that the fight 
put up by that division was one of the best on the 
whole of your front, especially the last stand of the 
South African Brigade, which we can only call magnifi- 


cent.'' In the course of his journey to Le Cateau Captain 
Peirson was spoken to by many German officers, all of 
whom mentioned the wonderful resistance of the South 
Africans. There is a more striking tribute still. On the 
road to Le Cateau a party of British officers was stopped 
by the Emperor, who asked if any one present belonged 
to the 9th Division. ** I want to see a man of that 
division,'' he said, " for if all divisions had fought like 
the 9th I would not have had any troops left to carry 
on the attack." 

It was no piece of fruitless gallantry. Dawson, as 
he was tramping eastwards, saw a sight which told him 
that his decision had been right, and that his work 
had not been in vain. The whole road for miles 
east of Bouchavesnes was blocked by a continuous 
double line of transport and guns, which proved that the 
South Africans had for over seven hours held up not only 
a mass of German infantry, but all the artillery and 
transport advancing on the Bouchavesnes-Combles high- 
way. Indeed, it is not too much to say that on that 
fevered Sabbath the stand of the Brigade saved the 
British front. It was the hour of von der Marwitz's 
most deadly thrust. While Gough was struggling at the 
river crossings, the Third Army had been forced west 
of Morval and Bapaume, far over our old battleground 
of the Somme. The breach between the two armies 
was hourly widening. But for the self-sacrifice of the 
Brigade at Marrieres Wood and the delay in the German 
advance at its most critical point, it is doubtful whether 
Byng could ever have established that line on which, 
before the end of March, he held the enemy. 

*' The majority will never be known." That is the 


comment which has to be made after every great episode 
in war. The names of commanders stand out, and now 
and then some single feat of gallantry emerges into 
light ; but a great thing is achieved not only by the 
spirit of the leaders, but by the faithfulness and devo- 
tion of those who disappear without record into the 
dark, or are remembered only by a wooden cross on an 
obscure grave. In that last stand every man of the 
Brigade " took counsel from the valour of his heart," 
and the glory became less that of the individual than of 
the race. Two strong stocks, coming together from the 
ends of the earth, had each of them in their blood the 
spirit that defends lost hopes and is undismayed by any 
odds. The kinsfolk of the men who shattered Dingaan's 
hordes and under Andries Potgieter beat off the indunas 
of Mosilikatse at Vechtkop, and those who had in their 
tradition the Ridge of Delhi and the laager at Rorke's 
Drift, joined hands at the wood of Marrieres in an 
achievement more fateful and not less heroic than any 
in their splendid past. 



(March 27-May 5, 1918.) 

The New Brigade — General Tanner takes Command — Ludendorff's 
Strategy in the North — The Weakness of the British Position 
— The Attack of 9th April — Von Armin attacks on the loth — 
The Brigade moves into Line — Attached to the 19th Division 
— The Counter-attack on Messines — ^The Situation on the 
Evening of the loth — ^The South Africans forced back from 
Messines — Plumer's General Withdrawal — ^The Brigade re- 
lieved — ^The Fight for Mont Kemmel — ^The Brigade in the 
Vierstraat Line — ^The Counter-attack on Wytschaete — Von 
Armin's Failure of the 17th — The Brigade withdrawn — ^The 
Composite Battalion formed — ^The New South African Brigade — 
Attached to the 49th Division — ^The Attack of 26th April 
— ^The Attack of 29th April — End of the Battle of the Lys — 
The Forty-five Days. 

THE old Brigade had come to an end, but the glory 
which South Africa had won on the Western front 
required that without delay it should have a suc- 
cessor. The story of Marrieres Wood, for all its tragedy, 
was too great to be permitted to lack a fitting sequel. 
General Botha, on behalf of the Union Government, 
telegraphed to Haig during these days : " We are watch- 
ing with appreciation the strenuous efforts which you and 
your gallant men are making in this supreme struggle 
for the liberty of mankind.'* To this the Commander- 
in-Chief replied : " The fine part already played by South 

(2,097) 193 iz 


Africa in this great battle is a symbol of the strength 
and unity of purpose that binds together all parts of the 
British Empire." When the composite battalion, under 
Lieutenant-Colonel Young, was withdrawn from the line 
on the night of 27th March, it marched along with the 
rest of the 9th Division to Candas, arriving there on 
yj .J I St April. It detrained at Abeele on the 

^ ' morning of the 2nd, and moved into the 
Ridgewood area. Every man who could be found was 
brought from England, and during the next few days 
drafts to the number of 17 officers and 945 other ranks 
arrived. The reorganization of the Brigade was im- 
mediately begun, and General Tanner, the former leader 
of the 2nd Regiment, came from the 8th Brigade to its 
command. The presence of Tanner was in itself a 
pledge of continuity in tradition. Presently the Brigade 
had a strength of 39 officers and 1,473 other ranks, 
and the old regiments were once more in being, the 
I St under Lieutenant- Colonel Young, the 2nd under 
Captain Jacobs, and the 4th under Captain Reid. 

By the 6th of April the German thrust towards 

Amiens had failed, and for the moment the gate of 

y. ,j ^ the Somme was closed. Brought to a stand- 

^ ' still, LudendorfF cast about for a diversion, 
for he could not permit the battle to decline into a stale- 
mate, and so lose the initiative. His main purpose was 
the same, but he sought to achieve it by a new method. 
He would attack the British elsewhere on some part of 
the front where they were notoriously weak, and compel 
Foch to use up his reserves in its defence. Then, when 
the Allied ** mass of manoeuvre " had shrunk, he would 
strike again at the weakened door of Amiens. On Luden- 


dorff *s plan the operation was to be a strictly subsidiary 
one, designed to prepare the way for the accomplishment 
of his main task farther south. He proposed to allot 
only nine divisions for the initial stroke, and to choose a 
battle-ground where even a weak force might obtain 
surprising results. 

That battle-ground was the area on both sides of 
the Lys between the La Bassee Canal and the Wytschaete 
Ridge. The German Staff were aware that it had 
already been thinned to supply ten divisions for the 
contest in the south, and that at the moment it was 
weakly held, mainly by troops exhausted in the Somme 
battle. Haig, as we know from his dispatch, had drawn 
especially upon this section, since a retreat there would 
not imperil the whole front so gravely as would the loss 
of ground between La Bassee and Arras. Nevertheless, 
it was a very real danger-point. The enemy had the 
great city of Lille to screen his assembly. Certain key- 
points of communications, like Bethune and Hazebrouck, 
lay at no great distance behind the British front. The 
British communications were poor, and the German were 
all but perfect. Any advance threatened the Channel 
Ports, and might be expected to cause acute nervousness 
in the mind of British Headquarters. Reinforcements 
would be demanded from Foch, and the place was far 
enough from the Amiens battle-ground to put a heavy 
strain upon the Allied power of reinforcement. Luden- 
dorff's aim was by a sharp, short thrust to confuse the 
Allied plans and absorb their reserves. If he could 
break through at once between La Bassee and Armen- 
tieres and capture Bethune, he could swing north-west- 
ward and take Hazebrouck and the hills beyond Bailleul, 


and so compel a general retirement west of Dunkirk 
and the floods of the river Aa. But to succeed he 
must have a broad enough front. He must take Bethune 
at once and the Messines Ridge soon after, for, if the 
British pillars of the gate at Givenchy and Messines 
should stand, his advance would be squeezed into nar- 
rows where even a weak and tired force might hold it. 

On the 8th the South African Brigade moved to hut- 
ments along the road between La Clytte and the little 
Aiyr'lR-o ^^^^ ^^ Scherpenberg. On the morning of 
Tuesday, 9th April, LudendorflF struck be- 
tween the Lys and La Bassee with von Quast's VI. 
Army. He broke that part of the line held by the 
Portuguese, and in the afternoon had swept over the 
Lys on a broad front. But at one vital point he failed. 
The 55th (West Lancashire) Division still held the gate- 
post at Givenchy, and throughout the whole battle that 
key position was never yielded by British troops. 

That night General Tudor instructed Tanner that 
the South Africans would be placed at the disposal of 
the 19th Division, which, along with the 25th and 9th 
Divisions, was holding the Messines Ridge and the line 
just north of the Lys. The corps was the IX., under 
Lieutenant- General Sir A. Hamilton Gordon. Next 

April 10. "^^^^^^g> ^o^h ^P^^^' ^^ 5-30 a.m., the IV. 
' German Army, under our old antagonist at 
Ypres, Sixt von Armin, attacked from Frelinghien to as 
far north as Hill 60. Under cover of the fog the enemy 
filtered into our positions from Ploegsteert Wood to 
Messines along the valleys of the Warnave and Douve 
streams. By noon he had taken Ploegsteert village and 
the south-east part of the wood, and had got Messines, 


while farther north he had driven in our line as far as 
HoUebeke, and was close on the Wytschaete crest. 
Ludendorff was striking hard against the northern pillar 
of the gate. 

At eight that morning the Brigade was ordered to 
move to a position of assembly just south of the village 
of Neuve Eglise, where they formed part of the reserve 
of the IX. Corps. During the morning the march was 
accomplished, and for the first time the South Africans 
saw the impact of war upon a land yet undevastated. 
Tanner wrote in his diary : " The sights in that march 
from La Clytte are never likely to be forgotten by those 
who witnessed them. With the falling back of our line 
that morning the shelling of the back areas had greatly 
increased, both in density and length of range. As a 
result, a large belt of country previously unmolested be- 
came subjected to a terrifying storm of long-range pro- 
jectiles, and the inhabitants, who up to then had been 
conducting peacefully their farming operations, were 
I compelled to flee for shelter beyond the reach of the 
' enemy guns. As we approached Neuve Eglise the road 
from Scherpenberg onward presented a constant stream 
of fugitives, old men, women, and children, laden with 
what household goods they could remove in carts, 
wheelbarrows, and perambulators. The most pitiable 
sights were those of infirm old people being removed 
in barrows, pushed or pulled by women and children." 
That was a spectacle which British troops had already 
seen east of Amiens, and it was not likely to weaken 
their determination in the coming battle. 

At noon Tanner saw Major- General Jeffreys, com- 
manding the 19th Division, and received his orders. 


The enemy had broken through between Messines and 
the place called Pick House on the Wytschaete road, 
and the situation at the moment was obscure. The 
South Africans were to counter-attack and retake that 
section of the crest of the ridge. The front established 
by the Messines victory of June 1917 had been more 
than two miles east of the crest, but that morning's 
fighting had brought it back generally to the western 
slopes. The counter-attack, in which the 57th and 
58th Brigades of the 19th Division were to co-operate, 
was aimed at recovering the ridge and its eastern slopes. 
The area of the South African Brigade was between 
Messines village and Lumm's Farm. Their first objec- 
tive was the Messines- Wytschaete road ; the second the 
original British third defence zone, bending round the 
village on the east from Bethlehem Farm in the south 
to Pick House in the north ; and the third the original 
battle zone. The defence system in this area had not 
the elaboration of that of the Somme, and the second 
and third objectives may be best described as the old 
British third and second lines. 

At 5.15 p.m. the South Africans moved from their 
position of assembly to the line of the Steenebeek stream, 
where, at 5.45, they deployed for the attack. The ist 
Regiment was on the right, and directed against Mes- 
sines village ; the 2nd on the left against the front 
between the village and Pick House. The 4th was in 
support to both battalions, and one of its companies 
was allotted to the assistance of the attack of the ist 
on Messines itself. The spring day had clouded over, 
and there was mist and a slight drizzle when the infantry 
advanced. The western slopes of the ridge were held 


at the time only by some units of the 19th Division. 
On the South African right was the 57th Brigade, and 
on their left, beyond Pick House, on the Wytschaete 
Ridge, the rest of the 9th Division. 

In the mist it was not easy to keep close touch, and 
the ist Regiment reached the western slopes ahead of 
the time, so that for a little its left flank was out of 
touch with the 2nd. As had been expected our artil- 
lery support proved very weak, and in no way affected 
the German machine gunners established in our old 
strong-points, and their snipers in shell-holes. As the 
South Africans approached the crest they were met by 
a heavy fire from the outskirts of the village, and from 
Middle Farm, Four Huns Farm, and Pick House. 
Nevertheless, by 6.30 the 2nd Regiment had won its 
first objective and crossed the Messines- Wytschaete road. 
Presently it had reached the second position, " D " 
Company, on the left, capturing Lumm's Farm with two 
machine guns, much ammunition, and part of the garri- 
son, while the right companies, reinforced by part of 
the 4th Regiment, took Four Huns Farm, Middle Farm, 
and Swayne's Farm, together with four machine guns 
and many prisoners. Pick House itself, however, which 
consisted of three concrete pill-boxes, was too strongly 
held, and Captain Jacobs, commanding the 2nd, was 
compelled to swing back his left company to Earl Farm, 
where it formed a defensive flank in touch with the 5th 
South Wales Borderers in the 58th Brigade. Here it 
was heavily enfiladed from a strong-point north of Mes- 
sines and from Pick House, and early in the night Jacobs 
took up a crescent-shaped line astride the Messines- 
Wytschaete road, with his right resting on Middle Farm, 


his left on Petits Puits, and his own headquarters at Hell 
Farm. His casualties on the left had been slight, but 
the companies of the 2nd on the right had lost some 
50 per cent, of their effectives, among them Lieutenant 
Pope-Hennessy killed, and Lieutenant Jenner wounded. 

In the meantime the ist Regiment had met the enemy 
issuing from Messines, had charged him with the bayonet, 
and had driven him back well over the ridge. In the 
eastern outskirts of the village, however, they were held 
up by heavy machine-gun fire from the direction of 
Bethlehem Farm, and from various strong-points north 
of it. One of the latter was captured, and many pris- 
oners were taken. For an hour there was severe hand- 
to-hand fighting, in which many casualties were sus- 
tained, all the officers in the vicinity being either killed 
or wounded. Among those who fell were Captain A. 
E. Ward and Lieutenants Hopgood and Griffiths, while 
Captains Burgess, Larmuth, and Tobias, and Lieu- 
tenants Lawrence, Neville, Spyker, Carstens, Christen- 
sen, and Clarke were wounded. Captain Burgess, in 
especial, gallantly led a small detachment through heavy 
fire to the east of the village. Owing to the shortage of 
men the position soon became untenable, and what was 
left of the I St Regiment was compelled to withdraw to 
a line about 100 yards west of Messines. The head- 
quarters of the 4th Regiment in support had been estab- 
lished at Birthday Farm. 

The situation, therefore, on the Wednesday evening 
was as follows. The new German line ran from Holle- 
beke, east of Wytschaete, which was held by the 9th 
Division ; along the crest of the Messines Ridge, and just 
west of the village; through the south-east corner of 


Ploegsteert Wood, and west of Ploegsteert village. 
Farther south the advance was deeper, for the enemy 
were north of Steenwerck, north and west of Estaires, 
just east of Lestrem and the Lawe River, and then cur- 
ving south-eastward in front of the unbroken position at 
Givenchy. It was a narrow front for a great advance, 
for the pillars at Givenchy and the Messines Ridge were 
still standing. The safety of the British front depended 
upon the 55th, the 19th, and the 9th Divisions. 

Little happened during the night of the loth. The 
South Africans retained their ground, and endeavoured 
to gain touch with the troops of the 9th Division about 
Pick House, while the 4th Regiment took over part of 
the line of the depleted ist. On the morning of the 
nth the 1 08th Brigade was moved forward in - ., 
support of the South Africans, and took up ^ 
a line along the Steenebeek stream. The South African 
front at the time ran from the western skirts of Messines 
through the Moulin de THospice, then to Middle Farm 
and Lumm's Farm northwards, and back to Petits Puits, 
with an outpost at Rommen's Farm. 

Early in the afternoon von Armin attacked with fresh 
troops, and the situation north of the Lys became very 
grave. On the British right the 40th Division was 
forced well north of Steenwerck. On its left the 34th 
Division was strongly attacked, and with difficulty suc- 
ceeded in holding Nieppe, which, owing to the pressure 
on the 25th Division from Ploegsteert, had now become 
an ugly salient. That afternoon the crest of the Mes- 
sines Ridge was lost. The enemy attacked in great force 
on the South African left on the line between Middle 
Farm and Petits Puits, and drove the 2nd Regiment 


back to a front parallel to and about 600 yards west of 
the Messines-Wytschaete road. Captain Jacobs having 
been wounded during the morning, Captain L. Greene 
assumed command, and, with Lieutenant Thompson of 
the 4th Regiment, immediately counter-attacked and 
regained the lost ground. Presently, however, the 
enemy succeeded in working round the left flank, and 
the South Africans were compelled to retire to a line 
200 yards east of Hell Farm, where they were in touch 
on their left with the 5th South Wales Borderers. In 
this position, in spite of repeated assaults, they were 
able to remain during the evening. There was also 
trouble on the right, where the 4th Regiment had re- 
lieved the I St. Middle Farm had been strongly as- 
saulted, and our counter-attack had sustained severe 
casualties. The 108th Brigade moved up in support, 
and for the moment the German advance was arrested. 
The loss of the Messines Ridge, though the 9th 
Division was still standing south of Hollebeke and at 
Wytschaete, compelled Plumer to rearrange his front. 
Early on the night of the nth he relinquished Nieppe, 
retiring the 34th Division to the neighbourhood of Pont 
d'Echelles. This involved the falling back of the 25th 
and 19th Divisions to a front about 1,000 yards east of 
Neuve Eglise and Wulverghem, and the consequent 
abandonment of the important point. Hill 63, just north 
of the western extremity of Ploegsteert Wood. South 
of the Lys there had been heavy fighting. The line of 
the Lawe had been lost, and by this time the enemy 
was in Merville. That night the British front ran from 
Givenchy to Locon, west of Merville, west of Neuf 
Berquin, north of Steenwerck and Nieppe, east of Neuve 


Eglise and Wulverghem, west of Messines, and along the 
ridge just covering Wytschaete. The gate was open, 
but it was narrow, and the gate-posts still held. 

About four on the afternoon of the nth orders had 
been received from the 19th Division for a general 
withdrawal. The South Africans were to fall back to 
a line from North Midland Farm by Kruisstraat Cabaret 
and Spanbroekmolen to Maedelstaede Farm, with the 
io8th Brigade on their right and the 57th in reserve 
along the Neuve Eglise-Kemmel road. About eight 
o'clock the Germans were found to be working round 
the left flank in the vicinity of L'Enfer, and accordingly 
two companies of the ist Royal Irish Fusiliers from the 
io8th Brigade were sent to the north of L'Enfer to 
obtain touch with the 9th Division. For the ^ ., 
rest, the withdrawal was carried out without ^ 
incident. By 5 a.m. on the 12th the South Africans 
were in their new front. 

Up to now the enemy had not used more than six- 
teen divisions ; but on the morning of Friday, the 12th, 
he began to throw in his reserves at a furious pace. 
Elated by his rapid success, he turned what was meant 
as a diversion into a major operation, and dreamed of 
Boulogne and Calais. It was Ludendorff's first blunder, 
and it was fatal. It saved the Allied front, but for 
the moment it all but destroyed the British army. 
Our reinforcements were arriving from the south, but 
they could only gradually come into line. That day 
the enemy came very near to crossing the La Bassee 
Canal. He made an ugly gap in our line south-west 
of Bailleul, which let through detachments, who seized 
Merris and Oultersteene north of the railway. He was 


now close on Bailleul Station, pushing direct for Haze- 
brouck, and but for a gallant stand of a brigade of the 
33rd Division, would have been through the breach. 
In the section of the 9th and 19th Divisions nothing 
happened. The enemy, having gained the Messines 
Ridge, was apparently content to rest there for a time, 
and made no further attack. 

The South African Brigade was to have been relieved 
during the night of the 12th, but the relief was can- 
celled, since the troops detailed to take its place had to 
be used to restore the situation farther south. During 
the night Tanner established an outpost line along the 
Wulverghem-Wytschaete road. On the morning of 
- ., Saturday, the 13th, his outposts reported 

^ ^' that the Germans, under cover of the mist, 
were massing opposite Kruisstraat Cabaret. They were 
quickly dispersed by our artillery, which during the 
day dealt faithfully vrith similar concentrations. That 
night the Brigade was relieved in line by the 58th, and 
withdrew to hutments at La Clytte, where it came once 
more under the 9th Division. 

The stand at Messines by the South Africans played 
a vital part in the battle of the Lys. For thirty hours 
the Brigade delayed the enemy's advance, and took 
heavy toll of him. In the words of the special order of 
the IX. Corps, " Its tenacity in the face of superior 
numbers and heavy firing undoubtedly relieved a serious 
situation, and obliged the enemy, when he was able to 
occupy the ridge, to be content to stay there during the 
whole of the 12th April without any further attempt to 
advance." Major-General Jeffreys, commanding the 
19th Division, and Sir A. Hamilton Gordon, the Corps 


Commander, bore testimony to the quality of the exploit. 
The latter wrote, " I wish to express to the General of 
the South African Brigade and to all his officers and 
men, my appreciation of their wonderful fighting spirit 
and most gallant doings in the great fight which we 
have been having in the last three days against heavy 
odds.*' Sir Herbert Plumer wrote that if any unit could 
be selected for exceptional praise it was the South 
African Brigade. Remember that the great majority 
of the men were new drafts, who had just arrived from 
home. Once again the Brigade had performed what 
seemed to be its predestined duty in an action — fight- 
ing outside its own area with its flank turned; and, as 
was inevitable, it paid a heavy price. For the three 
days its casualty list amounted to 639 all ranks ; of 
these 89 were killed, 270 were wounded, and 280 were 
missing, of whom the majority were afterwards proved 
to be dead. Yet, as the men marched back from the 
line, their spirits seemed to be as high as when they 
had entered it. 

The spell of rest was destined to be short. Von 
Armin was pressing hard for Mont Kemmel. On the 
13th the 29th and 31st Divisions had fought a most 
gallant fight in front of Bailleul, where, with the assist- 
ance of the 4th Guards Brigade, they held the line till 
the I St Australian Division could come up and organize 
positions east of the Forest of Nieppe. '* No more 
brilliant exploit," wrote Sir Douglas Haig, ** has taken 
place since the opening of the enemy's offensive, though 
gallant actions have been without number." All that 
day, too, the 33rd and 49th Divisions were hotly engaged 


in front of Neuve Eglise. In the evening the enemy 
made his way between that village and La Creche, and 
so outflanked the left of the 34th. During the night 
Plumer withdrew to the high ground called the Ravels- 
berg, between Neuve Eglise and Bailleul, and the former 
village the following morning passed into German 
hands. The threat to Hazebrouck was now acute, for 
von Armin was on the edge of the line of upland from 
Mont des Cats to Kemmel, which commanded all the 
northern plain towards the Channel. On Sunday, the 
14th, there was a little respite ; but on Mon- 

^^ ^~ day morning the 19th Division was hard 
pressed at Wytschaete, and three fresh Ger- 
man divisions, including the Bavarian Alpine Corps, 
attacked our front on the Ravelsberg, and at nine in the 
evening entered Bailleul. About that time the rem- 
nants of the South African Brigade were moved to the 
Reninghelst area, with orders to be prepared to march 
at an hour's notice. 

In the early hours of Tuesday, the i6th, the British 

front at Wytschaete and Spanbroekmolen was attacked 

y, ., ^ in force, with the result that both places fell. 

^ ' At 8.30 came orders from the 9th Division 

that the South Africans should move at once to a posi- 
tion in the Vierstraat line from Desinet Farm, in the 
north, to La Polka, just east of Kemmel village. 
General Tudor was about to attempt the recapture 
of Wytschaete. By noon the South Africans were 
in position, the ist Regiment on the right, 250 
strong, and the 4th Regiment, with the same 
strength, on the left ; while the 2nd Regiment, 292 
strong, was disposed in the second line along the 

Scene of Fighting around Mont Kemmel. 


whole front in the trenches which were known as Sack- 
ville Street. 

At 3.30 in the afternoon Tanner was instructed to 
send 100 men of the 2nd Regiment to occupy an advanced 
position between Store Farm and Van Damme Farm, 
part of the Hne from which it was proposed to make 
the counter-stroke. These men were required to form 
a garrison there, while the attack was delivered by the 
French. Meantime on the left the 26th Brigade of the 
9th Division was to move on Wytschaete. The latter 
attack was launched at 7.30 in the evening, but was held 
up in the north-west of the village. A quarter of an 
hour before midnight Tudor ordered Tanner to place 
the 4th South Africans under the orders of Colonel 
Mudie, the ofBcer commanding the 7th Seaforth High- 
landers, in order to assist in clearing up the situation. 
At midnight the ist South Africans and, two hours 
later, the 2nd South Africans (less the garrison on the 
Store- Van Damme Farm line) were also dispatched to 
the Seaforths. The 4th Regiment on its arrival was 
employed to fill a gap in the line on the north-west 
skirts of the village, while the ist and 2nd Regiments were 
held in reserve. Some hours later Captain Farrell, who 
was now in command of the 4th, reported that parties 
of his men had succeeded in entering Wytschaete, but 
on account of heavy machine-gun fire and the lack of 
touch with their flanks, had been compelled to fall back. 

Such was the situation on the morning of the 17th. 
It was for the enemy the most critical moment, ^ y 
perhaps, in the whole Battle of the Lys. 
He had reached his greatest strength, and the British 
troops were not yet reinforced at any point within sight 


of security. That morning von Armin's right attacked 
in the Ypres salient, and wholly failed to break the 
Belgian front. At the same time his left, now that the 
possession of the Wytschaete Ridge gave him observation 
over all the land to the west, assaulted the wooded 
slopes of Kemmel, the key of the countryside. After 
an intense bombardment the German infantry advanced 
with great resolution from their new positions at Neuve 
Eglise and Wulverghem, but were repulsed at all points 
with heavy losses by the 34th, 49th, and 19th Divisions. 
Von Armin's cherished plan had signally failed. During 
the 17th the South African Brigade was temporarily 
placed under the 26th Brigade, and the 100 men of the 
2nd in the Store- Van Damme Farm line rejoined their 
regiment in front of Wytschaete. In that position during 
the night the ist and 2nd South Africans relieved the 
4th Regiment and the 7th Seaforth Highlanders, the 
4th returning to the La Polka-Desinet Farm section, 
where it came once again under Tanner. 

Meantime Tudor had received the 62nd and 64th 
Brigades from the 21st Division as reinforcements, and 
contemplated a further attack upon Wytschaete. The 
y, .7 o 64th Brigade relieved the 26th, while the 
* ist and 2nd South Africans remained in line 
under the orders of the former Brigade. This plan, 
however, did not mature. During the morning of 
y, .7 _ the 1 8th, under cover of mist, the enemy 
assaulted the position held by the ist Regi- 
ment, and captured its advanced posts, one 
officer, Lieutenant Hogg, being killed, and 48 other ranks 
missing. Save for this incident the situation remained 
unchanged that day. On the 19th 100 men of the 4th 


Regiment were detailed to relieve some troops of the 19th 
Division. On the night of the 20th, the 4th was relieved 
in the southern part of the Vierstraat line and moved into 
support, while the detachment lent to the 19th Division 
rejoined its unit. Early on the morning of the 22nd 
the I St and 2nd Regiments were also relieved and moved 
to Dickebusch, and on the 23rd the whole j^^yn ^^ 
Brigade reassembled in the Hopoutre area. 

It was clear that the reconstructed Brigade could 
not continue. The drafts received after the debacle of 
24th March had been used up in the heavy fighting on 
the Messines-Wytschaete Ridge, and further reinforce- 
ments were not forthcoming to build it up to some 
semblance of fighting strength. No other course was 
possible but to organize the remnants into one battalion. 
The history of the doings of the South Africans in France 
is now the history of this composite unit, which was 
commanded by Lieut .-Colonel H. W. M. Bamford, M.C., 
of the 2nd Regiment, with Major H. H. Jenkins of the 
ist as second-in-command, and Second - Lieutenant 
MacFie of the 4th as adjutant. The four companies were 
made up of officers, N.C.O's, and men of the old regi- 
ments, and these, with the drafts arriving from England, 
brought the battalion to a total strength of 59 officers 
and 1,527 other ranks. 

The name of the South African Brigade was still 
to be retained, and the unit was to include, in addition 
to the Composite Battalion, the 9th Scottish Rifles 
(formerly in the 27th Brigade) and the 2nd Royal Scots 
Fusiliers, that famous battalion which at Ramillies had, 
along with the Buffs, led the decisive movement, and 
which at First Ypres had been all but annihilated. 

(2,097) 14 


General Tanner was to be the Brigadier. To reconstruct 
a new brigade and a new battalion takes time, and while 
the work was in process the unfinished product had to 
be flung into the fight, for the Battle of the Lys was not 
over. Ludendorff had dipped too deeply in the north 
to withdraw easily. He had incurred great losses without 
gaining any real strategical objective, and he could not 
bring himself to write off these losses without another 
effort to pluck the fruit which was so near his grasp. 
If he could seize Kemmel Hill, he would broaden his 
comfortless salient and win direct observation over the 
northern plain. In front of Kemmel was the junction 
of the British and French lines, which he regarded 
as the weakest spot in our front. Accordingly on 
Afyy'loc Thursday, the 2Sth April, he struck again 
for Kemmel. 
In the early hours of that day a heavy enemy bom- 
bardment presaged the coming attack. At 3.35 a.m. the 
South African Battalion, which had been taken over on 
the 24th by Lieutenant- Colonel Bamford, was warned to 
be ready to move at fifteen minutes' notice. At 5 a.m. 
von Armin attacked with nine divisions, five of which 
were fresh. His purpose was to capture Kemmel by a 
direct assault on the French, and by a simultaneous attack 
on the British right south of Wytschaete to turn their 
flank and separate the two forces. At first he seemed 
about to succeed. By ten that morning he had worked 
his way round the lower slopes and taken Kemmel 
village and the hill itself, though isolated French troops 
still held out in both places. In the British area the 
9th and 49th Divisions were hotly engaged west of 
Wytschaete, and before midday the right of the 9th was 


forced back to Vierstraat. In the afternoon the 2i9t 
Division, farther north, was also attacked, and by the 
evening the British front had been compelled to withdraw 
to positions running from Hill 60 in the north by Voor- 
mezeele and Ridge Wood to the hamlet of La Clytte on 
the Poperinghe-Kemmel road, where it linked up with 
the French. 

By the next morning supports had arrived, and 
Plumer made a great effort to recapture the ^ ., , 
lost ground. The 25th Division, along with 
French troops and elements of the 21st and 49th Divisions, 
re-entered Kemmel village, but found themselves unable 
to maintain it against flanking fire from the northern 
slopes of the hill. After midday came the second wave 
of the German assault. It failed to make ground owing 
to the gallant resistance of the 49th (West Riding) Divi- 
sion, under Major- General Blacklock, and of troops 
of the 2ist, 30th, 39th, and 9th Divisions, all four of 
which had been fighting for five weeks without rest. 
That afternoon the French recaptured Locre, on the 
saddle between Kemmel Hill and the heights to the 
west, so that our line in that quarter now ran just below 
the eastern slopes of the Scherpenberg, east of Locre, 
and then south of St. Jans-Cappel to M^teren. 

At 2.15 that afternoon General Tanner took over 
command of the sector held by the 26th Brigade. He 
had the 9th Scottish Rifles in line, and the 8th Black 
Watch and the 5th Camerons (both of the 26th Brigade) 
in support and reserve, for the South African Battalion 
was still in divisional reserve at Hopoutre. Presently the 
Black Watch and the Camerons were relieved by the 
2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers. The South African Brigade 


was for the moment under the command of the G.O.C. 
49th Division. Tanner's line ran roughly from the cross- 
roads called Confusion Corner, west of Vierstraat, to 
the southern end of Ridge Wood. The 9th Division was 
now back in support, and Tanner had on his right troops 
of the 49th, and on his left the 21st. The German 
attack came at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, and was 
repulsed with heavy losses ; but the 9th Scottish 
Rifles suffered so gravely that they were relieved by the 
2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers. The night passed quietly, 
. .- and on the 27th the South African Battalion, 
^ ' ' with a strength of 23 officers and 707 other 
ranks, moved forward and took up position in the La 
Clytte-Dickebusch support line. There it remained 
for two days under considerable shell-fire, which occa- 
sioned some 60 casualties. 

On the 28th the fighting fell chiefly to the lot of 
the French at Locre, and there was no material change 
in the situation. But on the morning of Monday, 
/I y the 29th, after one of the most intense 
German bombardments of the war, von 
Armin attacked the whole front from west of Dran- 
outre to Voormezeele. The Allied line at the moment 
ran round the eastern base of Mont Rouge, just covering 
Locre, across the low saddle of the range to the meadows 
in front of La Clytte, and thence by Voormezeele to the 
Ypres-Comines Canal. The British right was in the 
neighbourhood of the crossroads which we called Hyde 
Park Corner, on the saddle between the Scherpenberg 
and Mont Rouge. There lay the 25th Division as far as 
the little stream which runs from Kemmel to the Dicke- 
busch Lake. On its left was the 49th Division as far as 


Voormezeele, and beyond it the 21st Division to the 
canal. Von Armin made three main assaults — the first 
against the French to carry Locre and Mont Rouge ; 
the second, at the junction of the French and the 25th 
Division, aimed at turning the Scherpenberg ; and the 
third, between the 49th and 21st Divisions, to turn the 
obstacle of Ridge Wood. 

The infantry attack was launched at 5 a.m. in a dense 
mist by at least eleven divisions — six against the French 
and five against the British. It was delivered in mass 
formation, the density being from six to eight bayonets 
to the yard. On the British front no ground was gained 
at all. The three divisions in line, with the assistance of 
troops of the 30th and 39th Divisions, not only stood 
firm, but in some cases advanced to meet the Germans 
and drove them back with the bayonet. By the end 
of the day the single German gain was the village of 
Locre, which was retaken by the French the following 

The battle of the 29th was a complete and most 
costly German repulse. The enemy had attacked with 
some 80,000 men, and his casualties were at least a quar- 
ter of his strength. The Royal Scots Fusiliers in Tanner's 
brigade had suffered heavily, and the South African 
Battalion was ordered to relieve them. The work was 
complete by four o'clock on the morning of the 30th. 
For the next five days the situation was unchanged, 
for the fight on the 29th was the last great episode of 
the Battle of the Lys. Lieutenant B. W. Goodwin was 
killed by shell-fire on the 30th, and throughout the time 
the South African lines were consistently shelled. The 
enemy posted at Kemmel dominated our trenches, and 


movement during the day was dangerous. Happily, 
however, the misty weather and the poor visibiUty were 
on the side of the defence. On the 4th, Second-Lieu- 
tenant E. C. Addison, who had but recently joined, 
was killed by a shell, and the total casualties in this part 
of the line were, approximately, 200. On the night of 
j^ the 5th the Battalion was relieved, and 

•^ *^' moved back without losses, though a party 
of guides under Lieutenant Stokes, who had gone ahead 
of the main body, was less fortunate. Lieutenant 
Stokes, whose gallantry had been conspicuous during 
the past days, was severely wounded, and four of his 
men were killed. The Brigade had now rejoined the 
9th Division. 

If we take 5th May as marking the close of the 
Battle of the Lys we may pause to reflect upon the 
marvels of the forty-five preceding days. More his- 
tory had been crowded into their span than into many 
a year of campaigning. They had seen LudendorflP's 
great thrust for Amiens checked in the very moment of 
success. They had seen the not less deadly push for the 
Channel ports held up for days by weak divisions which 
bent but did not break, and finally die away with its 
purpose still far from achievement. In those forty-five 
days the South African Brigade had been twice destroyed 
as a unit, and in each case its sacrifice had been the 
salvation of the British army. At Marrieres Wood it 
delayed the advance which would have made an irre- 
parable breach between Gough and Byng ; on the ridge 
of Messines it maintained the northern pillar of our 
defence long enough to permit reserves to come up from 
the south. On nth April Haig had issued his famous 


order, in which he warned his troops that they were 
fighting with their backs to the wall, and that every 
position must be held to the last man. The veterans 
of Marrieres Wood and the new drafts of Messines 
obeyed this command to the letter. When the Composite 
Battalion was formed, there were men in it who had been 
fighting with Dawson or Tanner since the 21st of March. 
The few survivors of the forty-five days had behind them 
such a record of fruitful service as the whole history of 
the War could scarcely parallel. 




(May-September 19 18.) 

The Interlude — ^The Strategic Situation during the Summer — ^The 
M^teren Area — Awaiting the German Attack — ^The Action of 
25th June — The Capture of Meteren on 19th July — The End 
of the Composite Battalion — ^The Brigade re-formed — Leaves 
the 9th Division and joins the 66th. 

THE summer of 191 8 may be regarded as an inter- 
lude in the history of the South African forces in 
France. The continuity was not broken, for there 
was still a titular South African Brigade, commanded by 
a South African general ; but the old regiments had 
shrunk to companies, and only one battalion was South 
African in its composition. Again, the summer months 
were for the northern part of the British line a time 
of comparative quiet. The great tides of war had 
flowed southward, and before May was out came Luden- 
dorff's thrust on the Aisne, which drove the French 
back upon the Marne and in seventy-two hours ad- 
vanced the enemy front by more than thirty miles. In 
that southern area the German tactics of April were 
repeated, and presently von Hutier pressed forward on 
the right, and carried the Lassigny hills. Then, after 
a delay of six weeks, came the last attack on the Marne, 
which was to open the way to Paris, and with it Luden- 


dorff's final and irretrievable failure. But in the early 
summer that consummation could not have been fore- 
seen, and the months of May, June, and July were an 
anxious season for the Allied Command. When Foch 
became Commander-in-Chief his first problem was to 
create reserves, and his second to use just enough of 
them to hold the enemy. While the American armies 
were growing in numbers and efficiency he had to be 
ready, with still scanty resources, to face at any moment 
a new assault on any one of four sections of his long 
line. But his defence was not stagnant ; it was as 
vigilant and aggressive as any attack ; and there were 
two facts in the situation which might well seem to him 
of happy augury. He had devised an answer to the 
new German tactics, and formed his own scheme against 
the day of revanche. Again, the German strategy was 
clearly fumbling. The Lys had seen the decadence of 
the original plan, and the later adventures were blind 
and irrelevant hammer-blows. Germany, with waning 
strength, was being forced to stake all on a last throw ; 
if that failed, she might soon be helpless before the 
waxing might of the Allies. 

The Brigade during the summer was with the 9th 
Division in the area of Plumer's Second Army. That 
front in the north was in no secure position, for the 
advance of the enemy in April had brought him too 
near to certain vital centres like Bethune and Haze- 
brouck, and he held the key-point of Kemmel. It was 
well within the domain of possibility that the next great 
stroke might fall in the north, and the British Army, 
which had been actively engaged for nine weeks, was 


very tired. Hence there could be no sleeping any- 
where on the line between Ypres and Arras. Till the 
end of May an attack was hourly expected. 

From the loth to the 23rd May the Brigade was 
busy training in the Heuringhem area. On the latter 
date, with the 5th Cameron Highlanders in place of the 
9th Scottish Rifles, it marched to Hondeghem, and next 
day relieved the 26th Brigade in the support line, the 
South African Battalion, on the left, being available as 
^ a counter-attack battalion. On the 25th, since 

•^ ^' a German attack seemed to be imminent, it 
was decided to hold the 9th Division sector with a 
two-brigade front : on the left the 26th Brigade, with 
two battalions in line and one in support ; on the right 
the South African Brigade, with one battalion in line, 
one in support, and the South African Composite Bat- 
talion in divisional reserve in the village of Thieushoek. 
The 27th Brigade was at Hondeghem in corps reserve. 

The enemy was believed to be aiming at Mont des 
Cats, the western end of the Kemmel range, the pos- 
session of which would directly threaten Hazebrouck 
and the whole northern plain. At that time our front 
ran in this area from Locre by the north of Bailleul and 
just west of the village of Meteren to a point half-way 
between Strazeele and Merris. The sector taken over 
by the Brigade lay facing Meteren from the M6teren- 
Cassel road to the tiny watercourse called Meteren 
Becque, which ran south-east from Fletre. The de- 
fences were organized in two zones. The front line 
consisted of sections of trenches covered by an outpost 
line between 150 and 200 yards in front of them, in 
close touch with the enemy ; a support line, with the 


strong-point of Princboom in it ; and a reserve line 
based on Fletre. This forward zone was almost com- 
pletely over-looked by the enemy in Meteren, and any 
movement by day there was impossible. The second 
zone, some 2,000 yards in the rear, included the forti- 
fied village of Caestre. 

During these days patrols were busy on the quest 
for prisoners, and from the intelligence thus gathered 
it appeared that the German attack was fixed for the 
morning of the 29th. Much work was done in strength- 
ening the defences, and a special battalion was formed 
of Brigade details, which was held at Caestre in divi- 
sional reserve. But nothing happened on the 29th. 
That night the South African battalion moved into the 
support line, and on the ist June it relieved the 2nd 
Royal Scots Fusiliers in the front line. 

On the South African right lay the Australians, 
and on the night of 2nd June they carried out a minor 
operation in order to straighten their line ; ^ 
while the South Africans co-operated by a ^ 
pretended attack on Meteren. The Australians reached 
their goal without serious opposition. A German relief 
was in progress, and in consequence 5 officers and 250 
other ranks, besides many machine guns and trench 
mortars, were captured. For the next few days the 
enemy front was stagnant, and on the night of the 5th 
the Brigade was relieved in the front line by the 26th, 
and moved back to the Hondeghem area for further 

On nth June the Composite Battalion marched to 
Thieushoek, and that night relieved the 7th Seaforth 
Highlanders in divisional reserve. Once again a Ger- 


man attack threatened. The South African Brigade 
front was now held by two battaHons, and on the 17th 
the South African Battalion reheved the 9th Scottish 
Rifles, on the right of the front adjoining Meteren 

The position at Meteren was far from comfortable, 
and Tanner, after conferring with the Australians on 
his right, submitted to General Tudor a proposal for a 
further adjustment of the line, which involved an advance 
of some 425 yards on a front of 750. The scheme was 
approved, but, since full artillery support was necessary, 
it had to be postponed till the night of 23rd June. The 
attack was to be delivered by the ist Australian Brigade 
and by the South African Composite Battalion. Zero 
was fixed for half an hour after midnight on the 24th, 
in order that the troops should have sufficient time after 
nightfall to form up, and the remainder of the short 
midsummer dark for the consolidation of their gains. 

At zero hour an accurate artillery and trench mortar 
barrage opened on the German front trenches, and 
^ presently lifted a hundred yards. The at- 

-^ ^* tack, moving close to the barrage, succeeded 
at once, and the German machine guns were rushed and 
silenced as soon as they opened fire. Many small parties 
of Germans were found in the hedges and cornfields, 
who either fled or were quickly overpowered. The 
objective was soon reached, and consolidation began, 
and, with the assistance of a section of the 63rd Field 
Company R.E., by dawn the new line had been wired 
across its whole front. As a result of the operation 
29 prisoners and 6 machine guns were taken, while 36 
dead of the enemy were counted. The losses of the 


Composite Battalion were 5 men killed, and 2 officers 
(Lieutenants Harvey and Uys) and 21 other ranks 
wounded. The following night the battalion was re- 
lieved by the 5th Camerons, and next day moved back 
to Hondeghem. 

There the South Africans remained till the last day 
of June, when they came again into the front line to 

relieve one of the units of the 26th Brigade. ^ 

» 1 t .1 June 'lo. 

At that moment the omens pomted to an -^ ^ 

elaborate German offensive on the whole front between 
the Forest of Nieppe and Ypres, with the Mont des Cats 
as one of the main objects of attack. But the assault 
tarried, and during the first days of July the front had 
never been quieter. This gave us leisure to improve 
our communication trenches and link up the outposts 
of the front line into one continuous trench — a most 
necessary work, for it had been resolved to attempt the 
capture of M6teren village in the near future, and the 
task had been entrusted to the 26th and South African 

The loth of July was at first chosen as the day ; but 
the weather grew bad, and the operation was postponed. 
On the night of the 12th the South African ^y 
Brigade had been relieved by the 27th, and ^ -^ 
had returned to Hondeghem, with orders to be in readi- 
ness to move up at short notice. The two battalions of 
the Brigade selected for the assault — ^the South African 
Composite Battalion and the 2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers 
— rehearsed the business in complete detail. By the 
17th the weather had improved, and on ^ , 
the night of the i8th the Brigade relieved ^^ 
the 27th in the right sector of the divisional front, and 


took up positions of assembly ready to move on the 
following day. 

Zero was fixed for five minutes to eight on the morn- 
ing of the 19th. At that hour the troops of assault left 
^ , the trenches in artillery formation, and under 

'^ ^ ^' cover of a smoke and high-explosive barrage 
rapidly over-ran the enemy front-line posts and pre- 
vented the use of his machine guns. One or two strong- 
points held out till they were enveloped on the flanks. 
The main attack, admirably led by the section com- 
manders, bore down all resistance, and both battalions 
reached their objectives by the appointed time. One 
company of the Composite Battalion, which held the 
line on the extreme right, south of the point on which 
the operation hinged, had been ordered to watch for 
opportunities to harass the enemy while the main attack 
was proceeding, and, when the barrage ceased, to push 
up patrols along the front, and, if possible, capture the 
German trench between Meteren Becque and the road 
from Brahmin Bridge to Alwyn Farm. This they did 
with complete success, and took many prisoners and 
seven machine guns. 

The main attack, having reached its goal, sent out 
patrols, who managed to establish themselves on a point 
some 200 yards north of the line between the Gaza 
crossroads and the Brahmin Bridge road. There was 
some stubborn fighting at Alwyn Farm and among the 
hedges north of it ; but in the afternoon the divisional 
artillery cleared the place. Under cover of this outpost 
line a position in Meteren village and on the ridge was 
rapidly established, and one of the most awkward corners 
of the British front made secure. During the latter 


part of the day our advance lines were heavily shelled, 
but no counter-attack developed. It appeared that the 
Germans had been taken by surprise. They expected 
only a gas discharge, and had in many cases put on 
gas masks, and v^ere wholly unprepared to resist the 
rush of our infantry. 

The night passed in comparative quiet. On the 
morning of the 20th the Composite Battalion was ordered 
to test the enemy front on the right of the cv 7 
division, which seemed to have retired. '^ ^ 
Fighting patrols were pushed out, and a line was estab- 
lished some 400 yards farther south. During this 
action Captain Scheepers was killed ; he had only re- 
joined the battalion two days before. The Brigade held 
their sector until the 24th, when they moved to the left 
of the divisional front, where for some days they were 
busy in restoring and draining the dilapidated trenches. 
On the night of the 30th the Composite Battalion was 
relieved by the 5th Camerons, and marched ^ , 
back to a rest area. J - 3 • 

The capture of Meteren was a good example of a 
perfectly planned and perfectly executed minor action. 
The captured material consisted of i field gun, 13 trench 
mortars, and 30 machine guns, of which the Composite 
Battalion's share was 10 trench mortars and 23 machine 
guns. Between 200 and 300 prisoners fell to the Brigade. 
The casualties of the Composite Battalion were 130, of 
whom 27 were killed and 2 died of wounds. Besides 
Captain Scheepers, Second-Lieutenants Mackie, Ander- 
son, Douglas, Male, and Keeley fell, and Lieutenant 
Mackay was wounded. 

On 5th August the Composite Battalion was again in 


the line on the right of the division, which by now 
extended beyond Meteren Becque, and included Le 
Waton. Little happened for the better part of a fort- 
night except patrol work along the Becque. On the 
. ^ 1 8th the 27th Brigade, with the 9th Scottish 
^* ' Rifles, attacked and captured the mill of 
Hoegenacker, taking 10 officers and 230 men prisoners. 
By way of retaliation the Germans heavily shelled the 
South African front, in spite of which Sergeant Thomp- 
son of the 4th Company of the Composite Battalion, 
with five men, raided and captured an enemy post dur- 
ing the morning. That night the battalion was relieved 
by the 8th Black Watch, and withdrew from the front. 

On the day before the capture of Meteren, Foch on 
the Marne had delivered the great counter-stroke which 
decided the issue of the campaign. When on that morn- 
ing the troops of Mangin breasted the Montagne de Paris 
they had, without knowing it, won the second Battle of 
the Marne, and with it the War. The final battle had 
been joined, and the greatest modern soldier had entered 
upon the first stages of that mighty contest, which in 
two months' time was to shatter all Germany's defences, 
and enable him to begin that deadly arpeggio on 
the whole front from the Moselle to the North Sea 
which brought her to her knees. It was fitting that 
South Africa should be represented by more than a 
battalion in the final march to victory. During August 
1,000 reserves arrived at Lumbres from England, and 

. Q ^^ w^^ ^^w possible to consider the reor- 

^' ' ganization of the Brigade. On the 28th the 

Composite Battalion marched to Lumbres and prepared 


for disbandment. Since its formation on 24th April it 
had been almost continually in the line. Seventy-five 
officers had served with it at one time or another, and 
of these 7 had been killed and 11 wounded. Of the 
men, 84 had been killed, 27 had died of wounds, 329 
had been wounded, and one was missing. For the 
operations in which it had taken part it had won two 
bars to the Military Cross, three Military Crosses, one 
Distinguished Conduct Medal, one bar to the Military 
Medal, and thirty Military Medals. The four months 
had been an interlude in the main story of the South 
Africans in France, but an interlude not without its 
own glory. 

On nth September the Brigade, now re-formed, 
was withdrawn from the 9th Division, with which the 
South Africans had served since their arrival in France. 
For the purpose of administration it was transferred to 
the VII. Corps, with which it trained till 22nd Sep- 
tember. On that day it joined the 66th Division, which 
was then attached to the First Army. It was com- 
manded, as before, by General Tanner, and in addition 
to the three infantry battalions contained the Signal 
Section, the South African Light Trench Mortar Bat- 
tery, and the ist South African Field Ambulance. The 
I St Regiment was under the command of Major H. H. 
Jenkins, the 2nd under Lieutenant-Colonel H. W. M. 
Bamford, and the 4th under Lieutenant-Colonel D. M. 

It was not easy for the South Africans to leave the 
9th Division, or for the 9th Division to part with 
them. Together they had fought in the bitterest actions 
of the campaign, and their glory was eternally inter- 

(2,097) 16 


twined. I quote General Tudor 's farewell letter to 

" I wish to express to you and to your officers, warrant officers, 
N.C.O.'s, and men of the Brigade under your command my great 
regret that the exigencies of the service prevented me seeing you 
all personally before you were transferred from the 9th Division, 
in order to say good-bye. For two and a half years your Brigade 
has shared the fortunes of the 9th Division. At Delville Wood, 
at Arras, at Ypres, in the Somme retreat, and finally at Meteren, 
it has fully contributed in establishing and maintaining the glori- 
ous record of this division. The South African Brigade bore the 
brunt of the attack on the divisional front on March 21, 1918, 
and its final stand at Bouchavesnes on 24th March, when it held 
out all day until all ammunition was exhausted, will live as one 
of the bravest feats of arms in the War. The cheery keenness and 
comradeship with which the South African Brigade has always 
worked and fought will be very much missed by me personally, 
and by all the 9th Division. We wish you and your Brigade the 
best of fortune, and know that you will always fully maintain 
the splendid name you have earned." 

The division with which they were now brigaded 
had come later into the campaign than the 9th, but it 
had no mean record behind it. Under Major- General 
Neill Malcolm it had done gloriously in the retreat from 
St. Quentin, when it had been reduced to a handful. 
It was re-formed in the late summer under the command 
of Major-General H. K. Bethell, and, besides the South 
Africans, included the 198th and 199th Brigades, the 
units of which had been brought from Salonika. In the 
198th Brigade were the 6th Lancashire Fusiliers, the 5th 
Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, and the 6th Royal Dublin 
Fusiliers. In the 199th were the i8th King's Liverpool 
Regiment, the 9th Manchesters, and the sth Connaught 
Rangers. The pioneer battalion was the 9th Glouces- 



ters. The War brought the soldiers of South Africa 
r into comradeship with all varieties of the New Armies 
of Britain. Hitherto they had fought side by side with 
the Scots ; the last stage was to be spent in a fighting 
fellowship, not less close and cordial, with the men of 
Ireland and the North of England. 


(September 28-November 11, 1918.) 

Foch's Final Strategy — Progress of the Campaign in August and 
September — ^The End of the Siegfried Zone — ^The 66th Division 
in Action— The Fight of 8th October— The South Africans take 
their Objectives — ^The Fight of 9th October — ^The Brigade 
Captures Bertry, Maurois, and Reumont — The Line of the 
Selle reached — ^The Enemy Position at Le Cateau — Prepara- 
tion for the Attack — Lieutenant Hewat's Exploit — The 
Battle of 17th October — South African Captures and Casu- 
alties — Splendour of the Achievement — ^The Last Stage in 
the Campaign — ^Tanner's Mobile Column — ^The Last Shots 
at Grandrieu — ^The Armistice. 

AS the last stage in this record approaches, it is 
/-\ necessary to gather up the threads of the campaign 
and observe the position of the great AlHed move- 
ment at the time when the South Africans appeared again 
on the main front of battle. During the summer months 
Foch had warded off Ludendorff's successive assaults, 
and had accumulated a reserve, which at the end of 
July, by the accession of the American troops, gave him 
a final superiority both in men and material over anything 
which the enemy could compass. He had also devised 
a system of tactics which embraced all that was best in 
the German plan, and avoided its defects. By his 
counterstroke on i8th July against von Boehn's exposed 



flank he had given the coup de grace to Germany's 
offensive, wrested from her the initiative, and forced her 
back in some confusion on her defences. But the final 
blow could not yet be struck. It was the business of 
Foch to keep the battle " nourished,'' and at the same 
time to economize his forces till the moment came for 
the grand climax. He had to wear down the enemy 
methodically by attacks on limited fronts, ringing the 
changes over the whole battle-ground. The possession 
of abundant reserves and of such a weapon as his light 
tanks enabled him to " mount " a new action rapidly 
in any sector. After each blow he must stay his hand 
as soon as serious resistance developed, and attack 
instantly in another place. The enemy would thus be 
subjected to a constant series of surprises. Before his 
reserves could be brought up he would have lost heavily 
in ground and men ; his " mass of manoeuvre " would 
be needed to fill up the gaps in his front, and by swift 
stages that ** mass of manoeuvre " would diminish. 
From 8th August to 26th September it was Foch's task 
to crumble the enemy front, destroy the last remnants 
of his reserves, force him behind all his prepared defences, 
and make ready for the final battle which would give 

The tale of that great achievement — one of the 
greatest in the history of war — can here only be 
sketched. The record of a brigade moves for the most 
part in the mist ; its story is of tactical successes, which 
may be only a minute part in the major purpose. 
Rarely, indeed, does it appear, like the South Africans 
at Marriferes Wood, in the very centre of the stage, and 
the work of a small unit become the key to the strategical 


fortunes of an army. On 8th August Haig struck east of 
Amiens, followed by Humbert on the 9th, and Mangin 
on the i8th. On the 21st Byng's Third Army moved, 
and next day Rawlinson's Fourth Army, and on the 26th 
Home's First Army astride the Scarpe. By the end of 
the month we had carried the Bapaume Ridge, the inter- 
mediate position which Ludendorff had hoped to hold 
till the coming of winter, when he could retire at leisure 
behind the Siegfried zone. On 2nd September the 
Canadians broke through the Drocourt-Qu6ant switch, 
and turned the Siegfried flank on the north. Steadily 
during the next week Haig forced the Germans behind 
the water line of the Canal du Nord, and inside the main 
Siegfried defences. On 12th September Pershing and 
the Americans far in the south put an end to the St. 
Mihiel salient. By the 24th Ludendorff was everywhere 
back in his last lines — ^the ** granite wall '' which the 
German army chiefs had told their countrymen could 
never be pierced. There he hoped to stand till such 
time as winter took the edge from the Allies' ardour, 
and disposed them to compromise. 

He had not reckoned with Foch — nor with Haig, 
for on the 26th there began on the Meuse the arpeggio 
of attack which broke through the defences prepared 
during four years, and in six weeks brought Germany to 
surrender. On the 27th Haig struck at the main Siegfried 
zone from Cambrai to St. Quentin, and his blow was 
meant to shatter. It is no secret that the opinion of his 
Allies and of his own Government was not favourable 
to his boldness : even Foch, while he agreed that the 
plan was the right one, doubted its feasibility. The 
British Commander-in-Chief took upon himself the 


responsibility of one of the most audacious operations 
of the War, and, daring greatly, greatly succeeded. That 
day Byng and Home with the Third and First British 
Armies crossed the Canal du Nord, and next day reached 
the Scheldt Canal. On the 28th, too, the Belgians and 
Plumer's Second Army swept east from Ypres, and 
Mangin and Guillaumat opened a new battle between 
the Ailette and the Vesle. On the 29th came the main 
blow at the Siegfried citadel, when Rawlin son's Fourth 
Army, in conjunction with Byng and Debeney, crossed 
the Scheldt Canal, and stormed their way far into the 
fortified zone. In days of wind and cloud they enlarged 
this gap till St. Quentin fell, and Cambrai was utterly 
outflanked. On 30th October the Australians broke 
through the northern part of the Beaurevoir-Fonsommes 
line, the last of the Siegfried works, and looked into open 
country. Between the 27th September and the 7th 
October Haig had crossed the two great canals, and 
destroyed all but the final line of the Siegfried zone, 
while this final line in one part had been passed. The 
time had come for an advance on a broad front which 
should obliterate the remnants of the Siegfried works, 
and with them Germany's last hope of a safe winter 
position. Her nearest refuge would be the Meuse,,Pijd, 
shepherded by Foch's unrelenting hand, it was very 
certain that her armies would never reach the banks of 
that fateful river. 

On 28th September the 66th Division had been 
transferred to Rawlinson's Fourth Army, and by the 
5th October it had moved south to the old 
Somme area, and was in the neighbourhood ^^ 
of Ronssoy. It was now part of Sir T. L. Morland's 



XIII. Corps, which contained also the i8th, 25th, and 50th 
Divisions. Of these, the 25th was composed of troops 
brought from the ItaHan front, and the 50th, Hke the 66th, 
of battalions from Salonika and Palestine. Two of the 
divisions of the corps were, therefore, made up largely of 
men who had malaria in their bones, and there was some 
doubt as to how they would stand an autumn campaign 
in Picardy — a doubt which was soon to be put at rest. 
The 1 8th and 25th Divisions and the South African 
Brigade were well seasoned to northern warfare. 

On 6th October the 66th Division was warned that it 
would be used presently in a major operation in which 
the Fourth and Third Armies would co- 
operate. The object was to destroy the 
remnants of the Beaurevoir line, and with it the Sieg- 
fried zone. The country was the last slopes of the 
Picardy uplands, where they break down to the flats of 
the Scheldt — wide undulations enclosing broad, shallow 
valleys. There was little cover save the orchards and 
plantations around the farms and hamlets, but there 
were many sunken roads, and these, combined with the 
perfect field afforded everywhere for machine-gun fire, 
made it a good land for rearguard fighting. The XIII. 
Corns was now the right flank of the Fourth Army, 
with the II. United States Corps on its right, and the 
British V. Corps on its left. The 66th Division was in 
the centre of the corps, and the task specially committed 
to it was the capture of Serain. General Bethell attacked 
with two brigades — ^the South African on the right and 
the 198th on the left, each on a two-battalion front. The 
starting-point was a line running north-west and south- 
east through the eastern outskirts of Beaurevoir village. 

Lieutenant-Colonel D. M. MACLEOD, D.S.O., M.C., D.C.M. 

Commanding 4th Regiment, South African Infantry. 


In the South African Brigade the 2nd Regiment was 
on the right and the 4th on the left, with the ist Regi- 
ment in support. 

It was a wild, wet autumn morning when Byng and 
Rawlinson advanced on a seventeen-mile front, from south 
of Cambrai to Sequehart, while Debeney extended the 
battle four miles farther south. Zero hour for the 
Fourth Army was 5.10 ; for the Third Army, 4.30. 
The South African Brigade had moved on the 7th into 
the Siegfried lines at Bony, and by 3.30 a.m. on the 8th 
it had occupied its battle position. Unfor- 
tunately the assembly was not completed ' ' 

without loss. A preliminary attack by the 38th and 
50th Divisions on Villers and Villers-Outreaux brought 
down a retaliatory barrage from the enemy, and among 
the wounded was Lieutenant- Colonel Bamford, the 
commanding officer of the 2nd Regiment. His place 
was taken by Major Sprenger. 

The attack at 5.10, covered by a creeping barrage, 
moved swiftly towards its goal, and by 7 o'clock the 
South Africans had their first objective. The enemy 
resisted stoutly, and made full use of the sunken roads, 
especially at the Usigny ravine, which was in the ground 
of the 2nd Regiment. There he disputed every yard 
with machine guns and snipers, and did not yield till all 
his posts had been killed or captured. The whippet 
tanks, moving in front of the infantry, were mostly put 
out of action by shell-fire at the start, but one arrived 
opportunely at the Usigny ravine, and helped to break 
down the last resistance there. The 2nd Regiment took 
at this stage nearly 500 prisoners, two anti-tank guns, 
seventeen machine guns, and four field-pieces. These 


last were captured by a few men under Lieutenant E. J. 
Brook and Sergeant Hinwood, who pushed forward and 
rushed the guns 400 yards south-east of Petite FoHe 
farm, and then turned them on the retreating enemy. 
The 4th Regiment on the left had also to face heavy 
machine-gun fire, but it swept through the German 
position at La Sablonniere and Hamage Farm, taking no 
less than thirty-five machine guns. 

As soon as the first objective was won the ground was 
consolidated. Covering posts were pushed out, and the 
two regiments were reorganized. The supporting bat- 
talion, the I St Regiment, had been caught in the early 
morning barrage on the railway embankment north of 
Beaurevoir, and had suffered 23 casualties. Later it 
moved east of Beaurevoir, and provided a platoon to 
reinforce the 2nd before retiring to brigade reserve. 
The losses so far in the assaulting battalions had not 
been unduly heavy. The 2nd had suffered most in its 
commissioned ranks. Lieutenant R. G. A. M'Carter 
had been killed, and Lieutenant-Colonel Bamford, Cap- 
tain Symons, Lieutenant Egan, and Second-Lieutenants 
Giddy, Birrell, Fernie, Roberts, Gunn, and Francis 
wounded, the last officer subsequently dying of his 
wounds. The 4th had 45 men killed, and 4 officers and 
194 men wounded. 

The first objective having been taken, the 199th 
Brigade, according to plan, took up the attack, leap- 
frogging the South African and 198th Brigades, and by 
II a.m. had taken Serain and reached the final line. 
For a little its left flank was exposed, for Villers-Outr^aux 
was still in German hands. By three in the after- 
noon, however, the V. Corps had succeeded in carrying 



that village, and the XI IL Corps was able to establish 
itself securely east of Fremont and Serain. It had been 
a day of unblemished success. Haig and Debeney had 
advanced between three and four miles, and the Sieg- 
fried zone had disappeared in a cataclysm. The enemy 
was falling back to the Oise and the Selle, and for the 
moment was in dire confusion. Every road converging 
upon Le Cateau was blocked with troops and transport, 
and our cavalry were galloping eastward to harass the 
retreat. Next day Cambrai fell, and the Germans 
retired behind the line of the Selle. The war of posi- 
tions had ceased, and the combatants were now in open 

On the 9th Byng and Rawlinson pressed their advan- 
tage against the stricken enemy, who had no position 
on which he could stand, short of the Selle q 
river. The South Africans began the day in 
reserve, the attack on Maretz being conducted by the 
198th and 199th Brigades. By 10 o'clock Maretz, Avelu, 
and Elincourt had fallen, and half an hour later the 
South Africans passed through the two brigades and 
moved against the second objective, a line east of Maurois 
and Honnechy and Gattignies Wood. There was some 
hope that before nightfall the crossings of the Selle 
might be seized and the ridge to the east, which, it was 
clear, were the immediate objects of the German retreat. 
But though the enemy was disordered, he was not in 
rout, and his machine gunners fought stubborn rear- 
guard actions. The 2nd Regiment on the right, now 
under Major Sprenger, came under heavy fire as soon 
as it emerged from the eastern skirts of Maretz. As its 
left approached Gattignies Wood, it was strongly 


opposed by machine guns and snipers, but by the 
assistance of two armoured cars the southern part of the 
wood was cleared. On the right the advance was held 
up for half an hour by enemy posts along the Le Cateau 
railway. To add to Sprenger's difficulties, the 4th Regi- 
ment, under MacLeod, on his left was compelled to veer 
north towards Bertry, since the troops on its left had 
fallen slightly behind and got out of touch. He was 
compelled to bring up one of his supporting companies, 
and presently established his line on the Cambrai 
railway, where many machine guns and prisoners were 
taken. Before him lay the villages of Maurois and Hon- 
nechy, which appeared to be lightly held, since some of 
the houses were flying white flags. Sprenger, with three 
companies in line and one in support, moved through the 
village with little opposition, and was received with wild 
enthusiasm by the French inhabitants. It was the first 
time the South Africans had liberated an area not cleared 
of its civil population. A little after i p.m. he reached 
his final objective, where he found his flanks exposed, 
since he had outrun the general advance. 

Meantime MacLeod with the 4th Regiment had had 
severe fighting. His task was simple till he reached the 
northern edge of Gattignies Wood, which was held in 
strength by the enemy. By a flanking movement he 
overcame the resistance, and pushed on to the south- 
west skirts of Bertry. This village was not in the Brigade's 
area, but the delay in the advance of the division on its 
left made any further movement by the 4th Regiment 
impossible till Bertry had been taken. Accordingly Cap- 
tain Tomlinson, commanding the left company, swung 
northwards and occupied the village. By 4.30 p.m. Mac- 


Leod had reached his objective, and pushed outposts to 
link up with Sprenger. The Brigade was now established 
on a line east of Maurois and Honnechy. 

The day had gone so well that it seemed as if more 
might be accomplished than had been forecast in the 
original plan. The cavalry was ordered to go through 
and ride for Le Cateau and beyond, in the hope of 
cutting the main enemy communications through Valen- 
ciennes. By 2 p.m. the Canadian Cavalry Brigade had 
gone forward, encircled Reumont, and formed a picket 
line beyond it. The South Africans were instructed to 
make good that village, and for the purpose Tanner 
brought up the ist Regiment under Lieutenant-Colonel 
Jenkins. By dusk the work was accomplished, and 
Jenkins took over from the Canadian cavalry, occupying 
a line covering Reumont on the north and east. The more 
distant objective had proved impracticable. It was not 
possible to push through large bodies of cavalry, owing 
to the many strongly held machine-gun posts. That 
night the front of the 66th Division ran from the western 
skirts of Escaufourt, east of Reumont, to the east of 
Bertry station. For the South Africans it had been a 
day of distinguished achievement. The two battalions 
of assault had taken 150 prisoners, more than twenty 
machine guns, several anti-tank guns, and — at Bertry — 
a motor car containing a German officer. Their losses 
had been light. The 4th Regiment had one officer 
(Lieutenant R. Hill) and 23 other ranks killed, and 4 
officers and 71 other ranks wounded. In the 2nd Regi- 
ment Second-Lieutenant H. Perry was the only officer 

On the loth the Brigade was in reserve at Reumont 


and Maurois, where it was continuously shelled, the ist 
Oct lo I^^gi^^^t sustaining some twenty casualties. 
That day the divisional advance was con- 
ducted by the 198th and 199th Brigades, who pressed 
forward to the slopes above the Selle. By noon they held 
the spurs overlooking Le Cateau from the west, and had 
patrols in the environs of the town itself. But Le Cateau 
was not to fall at the first summons. The 66th Division 
found itself much harassed by artillery fire from the 
high ground towards Forest in the north-east, which 
overlooked its position. On its right the 25th Division 
could do little so long as St. Benin was untaken, and 
St. Benin was in the area of the II. United States 
Corps, whose left division had been checked. The 
G.O.C. 25th Division, Major-General Charles, attacked 
St. Benin in the afternoon, and drove the enemy across 
the Selle, but was unable to follow him owing to the 
difficulty of the river crossings and the machine-gun 
fire from the railway on the eastern bank. In the even- 
ing General Bethell, with the 199th Brigade, attempted to 
carry the high ground east of Le Cateau and north-east 
of Montay. The 5th Connaught Rangers reached the 
railway east of the town ; the i8th King's Liverpool 
Regiment reached Montay, but found the banks of the 
Selle heavily wired and could not cross. General Bethell 
accordingly withdrew the Connaught Rangers to the 
west side of Le Cateau, where they held the line of the 
Selle as it passed through the town. 

That night the II. United States Corps took over 
St. Benin, and the XIII. Corps lay north from it for the 
most part along the western shore of the Selle. The 
German 17th Reserve Division had arrived to rein- 


force the enemy, and his front along the east bank of 
the river was very strong. The wreckage of the fallen 
bridges had dammed the stream and flooded the low- 
lying meadows. It was clear that the forcing of the Selle 
line was not a task which could be carried out by the 
pursuing army " in its stride/' but required a careful 
and deliberate plan. For the enemy to stand awhile on 
the Selle was a matter of life or death, for otherwise he 
could not hope to extricate himself from Foch's pincers. 

It was now the eve of the last great fight of the 
Brigade — the last, indeed, of the campaign in the West. 
To understand it we must note the configuration of the 
battleground. The valley of the Selle at Le Cateau has 
on each side slopes rising to plateau country some 200 
feet above the bed of the river. On the west these slopes 
mount gently in bare undulations, but to the east they 
rise more abruptly, and the country in that direction 
is intersected with many orchards and hedges. A spur 
running north-east from Montay to Forest gives direct 
observation up the valley and over the eastern uplands. 
The Selle at Le Cateau is from fifteen to twenty feet 
wide, and usually about four feet deep, but with the 
recent heavy rains it was now rising fast. South of the 
town it flows through marshy meadows ; in the town 
itself the banks are bricked up, and it is spanned by two 
bridges ; farther north towards Montay it runs through 
firm pasture land. Le Cateau is a town normally of 
some 10,000 inhabitants, full of solidly built houses and 
factories, the greater part of which are on the slopes 
east of the river. On its eastern side runs the railway 
to Solesmes, which with its embankments and cuttings 


gave the enemy a position of exceptional strength. A 
formidable strong-point was the railway station and 
yard, which were bounded on the east by a bank thirty 
feet high, while a mound farther east, which could not 
be seen from the west bank of the Selle, gave good 
observation southwards. 

The position from the point of view of the defence 
was all but perfect. The wiring was ever5rwhere elaborate, 
the machine-gun posts had been prepared on a lavish 
scale, and the buildings and cellars were admirably 
adapted for a prolonged resistance. Four enemy divi- 
sions held the place, and two of them were fresh from 
reserve. The importance which the German High 
Command laid upon a stand on the Selle — which they 
knew as the ** Hermann Line " — was shown by orders 
captured during our attack. One, issued by General 
von Larisch commanding the 54th Corps, announced 
that the Army would accept a decisive battle on that 
line, which must be held at all costs. An order of an 
artillery group declared that the possibility of an armis- 
tice being arranged depended on the battle coming to 
a standstill on the Selle. Still another artillery order 
warned the troops that if the Hermann Line were 
held, a favourable peace could be arranged ; otherwise 
there was no prospect of an end to the War. If the 
position was vital to the enemy, it was no less vital to 
the Allies. By loth September the two main German 
salients — ^between the Lys and the Somme and between 
the Selle and the Argonne — had become precarious. 
Ludendorff had now but the one object, to protect the 
main lateral railway, from Lille by Valenciennes and 
Hirson to Mezieres, long enough to permit of an orderly 


retreat. If it fell too soon, large parts of his front would 
be cut off. It was Haig's aim to cut that railway as soon 
as possible by forcing the Selle and pressing on to 
Maubeuge across the many rivulets which drain to the 
Scheldt from the Forest of Mormal. 

On nth October the position was that the XIII. 
Corps held ground in the skirts of Le Cateau west of 
the Selle and along the river line. A frontal q . 
attack was impossible, and the town must 
be enveloped by its flanks. On the south the floods 
were extending, and a crossing place must be sought 
well upstream, so the Corps extended its right wing 
to St. Souplet. Simultaneously with any advance in 
the south there must be a movement on the north to 
capture the ridge north-east of the town. The immediate 
objective was the Solesmes-Le Cateau railway and the 
easterly ridge ; the ultimate goal the village of Bazuel. 

Several days had to be spent in preliminary work. 
On the night of the nth the South African Brigade 
moved up from Reumont and relieved the 198th and 
199th Brigades. The ist Regiment held the line opposite 
Le Cateau with the 2nd and 4th Regiments in support 
on right and left. Between the 12th and the q 
15th the I St pushed forward north of the 
town to the edge of the Selle. It was no easy task, for 
the western outskirts were not yet cleared of the enemy, 
and our positions were dominated by the high ground 
on the eastern bank and by the houses in the northern 
suburbs. In these days the ist Regiment suffered some 
twenty casualties in officers and men, while a post of 
one N.C.O. and seven men was reported as missing. The 
next task was to establish bridgeheads in the area of the 

(2.097) 16 


town itself, and in particular to hold the two ruined 
bridges. The capture of one of these was assigned to 
the 2nd Regiment, and Major Sprenger on the 15th 
ordered Second-Lieutenant R. D. Hewat, with one Lewis 
gun section and one rifle section, to establish posts east 
of the bridge on both sides of the road. Owing to the 
constant machine-gun fire the debris of the bridge could 
not be used, so Lieutenant Hewat and his men waded 
across the stream, heavily bombed all the while by the 
enemy, and carried out their instructions. During the 
1 6th he was frequently attacked, but with seven sur- 
vivors he held his ground, and when the general advance 
began next morning he was found engaged against three 
machine guns. Late that day he rejoined the Brigade 
after a most gallant feat of arms, having held out for over 
thirty-six hours. 

The main attack of the XIII. Corps was fixed for 
the morning of the 17th. On the right the 50th Division, 
under Major- General Jackson, was to cross at St. Souplet 
and St. Benin, capture the railway embankment opposite 
them and the railway triangle, and then swing north and 
take the railway station. Their supporting troops were 
then to move on Bazuel. The South African Brigade 
was to cross the Selle north of the town, seize the railway, 
and link up with the 50th north of the railway triangle ; 
and, in the final stage, swing forward its right and 
establish itself on the spur east of Le Cateau. Since 
the V. Corps on the left was not attacking, arrangements 
were made to obscure the enemy observation from the 
high ground north-east of Montay by a smoke barrage. 

Meantime, on the evening of the i6th, the ist South 
African Regiment had attacked at 5.45 p.m. in order 


to win positions on the eastern bank, whieh would en- 
able eight bridges to be thrown across tie q^^ ^g 
river, since it was necessary that the assailt- 
ing position should be on that bank. This work was 
successfully accomplished by " A " and ** B " com- 
panies under Lieutenants Gray and M'lMillan. It was 
found that strong wire entanglements had been con- 
structed on the east shore, through which openings had 
to be cut to permit of the assembly of the assaulting 

At 8 p.m. that evening the 4th Regiment on the right 
and the 2nd on the left — ^together vAt^ " D " Company 
of the ist under Captain Thomson, which had been 
detailed to follow the 2nd — began to move forwards. 
The crossing of the river was slow work, owing to the 
slender footbridges and the narrow gaps in the wire. 
The South Africans, when they reached the east bank, 
found themselves in places not fi/ty yards from the 
enemy, who held the railway enrbankment, and had 
pushed forward machine-gun outposts to the river-side 
road. By 4.30 on the morning of Tuesday the 17th the 
assembly was complete, and the South Africans laboured 
to make their position secure. They had little time for 
the work, for zero hour was approaching and their 
situation would have been perilous indeed but for the 
merciful interposition of the weather. Just before dawn 
a heavy mist rose from the valley, blinding the enemy's 
eyes, so that most of his artillery and machine-gun fire 
passed harmlessly over their heads. Casualties, however, 
could not be altogether avoided. Lieutenant M. E. 
Whelan, M.C., of the zv^ Regiment was severely 
wounded, and died on the following day ; and Lieutenant 


E. J. Brook of the same regiment was killed, his body, 
riddled with bullets, being found five yards from a 
German machine gun. 

Zero hour for the 50th Division was 5.20 a.m., for 
it had much ground to cover before it could come into 

Oct 17 ^^^ ^^^^ ^^^ (idth.. The 151st Brigade 
crossed the river with ease, but met with a 
stubborn resistance at the station. The 149th Brigade 
followed for the attack on the second objective, and found 
like difBculties at the railway triangle. So soon as the 
news came that the 149th was over the Selle, it was time 
for the South A^icans to advance. The Brigade had 
taken immense risks in its assembly, and escaped serious 
loss partly by the help of the fog, partly by the very 
boldness of the hazard, since it lay so close to the enemy 
that his fire was irieffective. But it was a welcome relief 
to officers and mei when at 8.5 a.m. came the order to 
launch the attack. 

The mist was sf.U thick, and no man could see fifty 
yards before him. The first wave disappeared into the 
gloom, and those behind waited long before they got 
news of it. From the outset the attack had to face great 
belts of single and double apron wire, and heavy machine- 
gun fire from both flanks. After a hundred yards had 
been covered, the South Africans came upon a sunken 
road protected by a paHsade, where the 4th Regiment 
was held up for some time, and suffered many losses. As 
they approached the railway they encountered another 
and more formidable obstacle — a belt of wire entangle- 
ments sixty yards deep. The railway at this point ran 
in a deep cutting, the side^ of "vvbich were studded with 
machine-gun posts and rifle-pits. The South Africans 


rose to the emergency. They found a shallow trench 
used by the Germans as a route from the railway cutting 
to an outpost ; they found a tortuous path through the 
wire made for the use of German patrols, where Major 
Clerk of the 4th Regiment shot the two sentries on duty ; 
and by these roads slowly and patiently they filtered 
through to the railway. It was a magnificent feat of cool 
resolution, and it was performed under the most galling 
fire. Soon they were in the cutting, where stern fighting 
took place. It was Ludendorff's old device of ** in- 
filtration '' in miniature, and at 9.15 Captain Jacobs of 
the 2nd Regiment reported to Major Sprenger that the 
first objective had been reached. 

The situation, however, was still full of danger. The 
first objective was beyond the railway line ; but, since 
our troops could not dig themselves in in the open 
because of machine-gun fire, they were compelled to 
fall back to the railway itself, where they had some kind 
of cover, though the German field guns were accurately 
registered on it. Slowly they cleared the line, and by 
midday Tanner was able to inform General Bethell that 
he held the railway from a point 500 yards north of the 
railway triangle to the northern boundary of the XIII. 
Corps. Meanwhile " D " Company of the ist Regiment, 
which had followed the 2nd, succeeded under great 
difficulties in its appointed task of establishing a defen- 
sive flank on the left between the railway and the Selle. 
Every officer of the company was wounded during the 
course of the day. The losses of the assaulting bat- 
talions had been high, and the ist Regiment was now 
called upon to reinforce each with a company, while a 
little later the remaining company was sent forward to 


strengthen the left flank. One battaHon of the 198th 
Brigade was busy clearing up in Le Cateau. 

There could be no advance to the second objective 
yet awhile, for the 50th Division was in difiiculties. It 
had not succeeded in carrying the railway triangle, and 
was involved in intricate fighting among the station build- 
ings, much galled by machine-gun fire from the mound 
to the east. The 66th Division was called upon to help, 
and a battalion of the 198th Brigade was sent south of 
the town to attack towards the point where the Bazuel 
road crosses the railway. The Corps heavy artillery put 
down an intense bombardment from 3 p.m. to 3.30 p.m. 
on the station and the railway triangle, and it was pro- 
posed thereafter to send in the 150th Brigade. But at 
that moment came an enemy counterstroke against the 
junction of the 50th Division and the II. United States 
Corps, and the 150th Brigade had to be diverted south 
to restore the broken front. That evening, after fifteen 
hours of desperate fighting, the XIII. Corps held a line 
along the Arbre de Guise-Le Cateau road, through the 
east skirts of Le Cateau, and along the railway line to 
Baillon Farm, beyond which it bent back to the Selle. 
The town had been won, but not the vital ridge to the 

The South African Brigade spent an uneasy night of 
** standing to." The enemy's bombing patrols were 
busy, his machine-gun and trench-mortar fire was 
accurate and intense, and his artillery fire, with light, 
Q r. heavy, and gas shells, was unceasing. At 
5.30 a.m. on the i8th the 50th Division 
again attacked, and carried all its objectives, establish- 
ing itself on the Le Cateau- Cat illon road, with outposts 

/. ;5 c ^^ ; 


east and north-east of Bazuel. During the afternoon 
the 66th Division swung forward its right, and the task 
originally allotted to the XHI. Corps was completed. 
At 5 p.m. orders had been issued for a relief of the 
South African Brigade by the igQth, but owing to the 
lateness of the hour the relief was cancelled. Unfor- 
tunately this cancelling order did not reach " B '' Com- 
pany of the I St Regiment till it had withdrawn, and in 
returning to the line it lost thirteen killed, while Second- 
Lieutenant R. MacGregor was mortally wounded. During 
the night the ist Regiment lost also Second-Lieutenant 
C. H. Powell killed, while Second-Lieutenant C. H. 
Perrem was severely wounded. The final objective of 
the Brigade was established about 4.30 a.m. ^ 
on the morning of the 19th, Captain King 
of the 2nd being wounded during the operation. 

Such was the part of the South Africans in the 
forcing of the Selle, the last of their great battles. Be- 
tween the 17th and 20th of October, in face of a most 
gallant resistance, Byng, Rawlinson, and Debeney had 
swept well beyond the river line and the Oise-Sambre 
Canal, and the way was open for Haig's advance against 
Valenciennes and the Forest of Mormal. In the XIII. 
Corps area five brigades had in three days captured 
7,000 yards of prepared positions defended by a difficult 
water line, had advanced 6,000 yards, and utterly de- 
feated four German divisions, taking 25 officers, 1,226 
men, and 15 guns. In this work the South Africans 
had played a pre-eminent part. Between the night of 
7th October and the night of 19th October they had 
taken prisoner 4 officers and 1,238 other ranks, and had 
captured 367 machine guns, 19 trench mortars, 22 field 


guns, 4 anti-tank guns, and a mass of other equipment. 
Their casualties were 47 officers and i ,229 men, of whom 
6 officers and 184 other ranks were dead. 

The achievement on the 17th is worthy to rank with 
their advance at Third Ypres as a briUiant feat of offen- 
sive warfare, and as such it was praised by their 
comrades in arms. Brigadier- General Ian Stewart of 
the XIII. Corps Headquarters Staff wrote to Tanner : 
" I shall always look on the capture of the railway 
embankment north of Le Cateau as one of the most 
astounding feats of the War. It will be good for South 
Africa to know what a brave part her contingent played 
in the closing chapter of the Great War, and it is no 
little honour to have been the foremost troops of the 
British Armies in France when the curtain fell on the 
greatest tragedy the world has seen.'* And when the 
war was over and the Brigade about to leave the 66th 
Division, Major- General Bethell wrote in his special 
order of the day : "In after life if any of you are up 
against what you imagine to be an impossible task of 
any description, call to mind the Boche position on the 
east bank of the Selle river north of Le Cateau, or ask 
some one who was there to depict it to you. Then 
remember that the South African Brigade crossed that 
stream and took that position, which the enemy thought 
impregnable to attack from that direction, and that, on 
looking back at it from the enemy's side, it was hard to 
understand how the apparently impossible had been 
done by you." 

The fighting front of the XIII. Corps was now occu- 
pied by the 25th and i8th Divisions, and the 50th and 


66th Divisions fell back into reserve. The South African 
Brigade was in rest billets at Serain till the 2nd November. 
Haig was now fairly embarked in open warfare, operating 
in a difficult country of large woods, many small villages, 
and an infinity of hedged enclosures. His first object 
was the line from Valenciennes to the Oise-Sambre 
Canal along the western edge of the Mormal Forest. 
The enemy had a strong water line in the canal and the 
Scheldt, and a good defensive position in the forest, but 
between the northern end of Mormal and the Scheldt 
was a gap of ten miles, and if Haig broke through the 
gap the position must crumble. On Wednesday, 23rd 
October, he struck on a front of fifteen miles, the Fourth 
Army using two corps, and the Third Army four. This 
was the beginning of the last great fight of the British 
Army, the Battle of the Rivers, fought in thick mists 
and drizzling rain. In two days Rawlinson, Byng, and 
Home advanced six miles, and by the last day of October 
Haig was through the gap. Elsewhere, on the long front 
of the Allies, Debeney, Mangin, and Guillaumat were 
each some twenty-three miles from Hirson with an open 
country before them, and Gouraud and Pershing had 
broken the resistance in the tangled area west of the 
Meuse, and were ready for the final push on Mezieres 
and Sedan. Meantime strange things were happening 
in Berlin. The new ministry which had come into power 
in Germany in the early days of October had opened 
feverish negotiations, and had made haste to recast the 
creed which had hitherto been Germany's faith. On 
27th October Berlin accepted President Wilson's terms, 
which were that the only armistice to be considered 
must be one that made impossible the renewal of hos- 


tilities on the part of Germany, and was negotiated by 
a people's Government and not by the Great General 
Staff. The acceptance of such conditions was tantamount 
to an admission of defeat in the field. On Saturday the 
26th Ludendorff resigned his command. The twiHght 
of the gods had fallen upon his old proud world, and 
the direction of affairs had gone for good from the 
hands of him and his kind. 

By now the condition of the German armies was in 
the last degree desperate. On 21st March they had had 
a reserve of eighty fresh divisions, and during the 
summer no division was returned to the line without at 
least a month of rest and training. By 30th October 
they had but one fresh division, and the intervals of 
rest had shrunk to nine days. There were divisions on 
their front which mustered less than 1,000 rifles, and the 
total shortage of rifles to establishment was not less than 
500,000. Their casualties since March had been some 
2,500,000, of which at least 1,000,000 represented per- 
manent losses. Of the 18,000 pieces of artillery on their 
front on 15th July, a third had since been captured or 
destroyed. Worse still, they had been manoeuvred into 
a position from which retreat was in the long run 
impossible. Pershing and Gouraud were about to cut 
their main trunk line in the south, and Haig's deadly 
pressure was shepherding them northward into the gap 
of Liege, where, unless an armistice intervened, on 
the scene of their worst infamies they would suffer a 
more terrible Sedan. 

But it must not be thought that in those days the 
Allies, and especially the British, won easy victories. 
The enemy resisted with a gallantry and devotion worthy 


of a more honourable cause. Between the 27th Septem- 
ber and the nth November our First, Third, and Fourth 
Armies faced and defeated sixty-one divisions, of which 
twenty-one had been twice in the battle, eight thrice, and 
two four times. The rearguard actions by machine-gun 
posts were often brilliant and almost always resolute, 
and the defence of the Selle line, notably at Le Cateau, 
would have done credit to any troops. If we had broken 
through all the great prepared positions, we were none 
the less fighting in a country which allowed strong de- 
fences to be improvised, and the enemy did not fail to 
take advantage of it. 

It should be remembered, too, that he massed his 
main strength against the British, for there, if anywhere, 
he must stand, since Haig was marching straight for 
Namur and the one narrow door still open to his fron- 
tiers. In especial he dared not weaken his artillery on 
that section, and Haig had to face the bulk of the dwind- 
ling complement of German guns. The shelUng in those 
days seemed to many who had fought through the War 
to be the heaviest they had encountered. The South 
African Field Ambulance, which, under Lieutenant- 
Colonel Pringle and Major M. B. Pow^r,* did magnifi- 
cent work at that stage (it equalled its old record, for 
it was not in human power to surpass it), had a difficult 
task because of the steady German shell fire, which 
searched out all the back areas. As the advance grew 
faster, it became hard to keep up with the infantry, and 
to bring back the wounded expeditiously by ruined 

* Major C. M. Murray, another distinguished officer, had been 
recalled in September to take up work in England. He was with 
the ambulance during the heavy fighting of the first half of 19 18. 


roads and broken bridges over distances unknown in 
the previous history of the campaign. 

On 2nd November the South African Brigade moved 

forward from Serain. That day Valenciennes fell to the 

TV 7 Canadians under Home, and next day the 

JSOV, Z-A, ^ . . . ^ ^ 

German retreat mcreased its pace. By 
Monday the 4th, Pershing, who in three days had ad- 
vanced twelve miles, had the southern railway at Mont- 
medy and Longuyon under his fire. That bolt-hole had 
been closed. The time had come for Foch, as it came 
to Wellington on the evening of Waterloo, to give the 
signal for " everything to go in.'* On the 4th Haig 
attacked on the thirty-mile front between Valenciennes 
and the Sambre, and by the next day the Forest of Mormal 
was behind him. The enemy's resistance was finally 
broken, and his armies were not in retreat but in flight, 
with their two wings for ever separated. Through the 
fifty-mile pocket between Avesnes and Mezieres the whole 
German forces in the south must squeeze if they would 
make good their escape, and the gap was hourly narrow- 
ing. Mangin and Guillaumat were close on Hirson, 
Gouraud and Pershing were approaching Mezieres, and 
Haig had the Sambre valley as an avenue to Namur. 
Moreover, Foch had still his trump card to play, the 
encircling swing of a new American army north of Metz 
to cut off the enemy from his home bases. If a negoti- 
ated armistice did not come within the week, there 
TV 7- would be a de facto armistice of collapse and 

surrender. On the 7th Byng was in Bavai, 
and on the 8th in front of Maubeuge. That day Raw- 
linson took Avesnes, and on the 9th the Guards entered 
Maubeuge, while farther north Cond6 and Tournai 


were in our hands. On the 6th Gouraud was in Rethel, 
and on the 7th Pershing was in the western skirts of 
Sedan. On the 6th the German delegates, Erzberger 
and his colleagues, left Berlin on their embarrassed 
journey to Foch's headquarters. On the 9th came the 
revolution in Berlin, and the formation of a Council of 
National Plenipotentiaries under Ebert. Next day the 
Emperor fled from Main Headquarters to seek sanctuary 
in Holland. 

On the morning of the 8th the South African Brigade 
was in reserve to the 66th Division at Dompierre, just 
west of Avesnes. Next day it marched by Beugnies to 
Solre-le-Chateau — an arduous journey, largely over field 
tracks, since most roads and bridges had been destroyed 
by the enemy. Tanner had been informed by his 
divisional commander that, owing to the new situation, 
it had been resolved to create a mobile column under 
his command. This column was to be part of an advanced 
guard to cover the Fourth Army front, which guard was 
to be under Bethell, and was to include the 5th Cavalry 
Brigade. Tanner's force was made up of his infantry 
brigade, " B " Battery 331st Brigade R.F.A. with six 
i8-pounders, " D " Battery of the same brigade with one 
section of 4.5 howitzers, the 430th Field Company R.E., 
** C " Company looth Machine-gun Battery, two 
armoured cars, and two platoons of the XHL Corps 
Cyclists. The general scheme was that the column 
should move on Beaumont, and cross the stream there, 
preceded by the 12th Lancers, while the remainder of 
the 5th Cavalry Brigade operated on its southern flank. 

At 7 a.m. on the morning of Sunday, loth November 
— about the time when the courier of the German dele- 


gates was reaching Spa with Foch's terms in his pocket 
j^ — the column moved out from Solre-le- 

Chateau on the Beaumont road, Lieutenant- 
Colonel H. H. Jenkins, with the ist Regiment, forming 
the advanced guard. A culvert a mile to the east had 
been blown up, and took some time to repair, so it was 
9.30 before the head of the column reached Hestrud. 
The 1 2th Lancers, who were in possession, reported 
that the enemy was in considerable force on the high 
ground north and south of Grandrieu. Tanner accord- 
ingly halted the main body under cover at the Bois de 
Madame, and ordered the ist Regiment after a brief 
reconnaissance to deploy for attack in order to clear the 
way for the column. The attack of the ist on a three- 
company front began at 10.30 with the fording of the 
Thure river, the road-bridge having been destroyed. 
The enemy, part of the Guard Reserve Corps, opened 
the sluices of a reservoir upstream, with the result that 
the assaulting troops were cut off till the flood sub- 
sided. Presently it became clear that they were facing 
an organized rearguard position, strongly held by 
machine guns, and supported by artillery. 

The flanks of the advance were exposed ; and since 
the bulk of the sth Cavalry Brigade had not come up. 
General Bethell moved forward the 199th Brigade on 
the right of the South Africans in the direction of Sivry, 
where they were in touch with the 20th Hussars. The 
instructions of the advanced guard were to keep close 
to the enemy, but not to attack if he was found in a 
strong position. Accordingly Tanner did not force the 
advance, and in the afternoon the ist Regiment was 
ordered to dig in. It was thought likely that the Germans 


might retreat during the night, so vigilant patroUing 
was carried out ; but at dawn on the nth the situation 
had not altered. In the meantime the bridge at Hestrud 
had been rebuilt by the Engineers. 

The morning of Monday, nth November, was cold 
and foggy, such weather as a year before had been seen 
at Cambrai. Very early, while the Canadians ^^^ ^ ^ 
of Home's First Army were entering Mons, 
the ist Regiment attacked, but could make little progress, 
though a patrol under Second-Lieutenant Cawood 
managed to gain some ground on the left flank. By 
8 o'clock a considerable advance was made on the right, 
where the 20th Hussars were feeling their way through 
Sivry. At 10 a.m. Tanner received by telephone the 
news that an armistice had been signed. " Hostilities," 
so ran the divisional order, *' will cease at 11 o'clock 
to-day, nth November. Troops will stand fast on the 
line reached at that hour, which will be immediately 
reported by wire to Headquarters, Fourth Army Advance 
Guard. Defensive precautions will be maintained. 
There will be no intercourse of any description with the 
enemy until receipt of instructions." The news must 
have reached the enemy lines earlier, and he signalized its 
arrival by increasing his bombardment, as if he had 
resolved to have no surplus ammunition left when the 
hour of truce arrived. 

Punctually at 11 o'clock the firing on both sides 
ceased. There came a moment of dramatic silence, and 
then a sound as of a light wind blowing down the lines 
— ^the echo of men cheering on the long battle front. 
The meaning of victory could not in that hour be realized 
by the weary troops ; they only knew that fighting had 


stopped, and that they could leave their trenches with- 
out disaster. The final " gesture " fell to the arm which 
from the beginning of the campaign had been the most 
efficient in the enemy service. At two minutes to eleven a 
machine gun opened about two hundred yards from our 
leading troops at Grandrieu, and fired off a whole belt 
without a pause. A German machine gunner was then 
seen to stand up beside his weapon, take off his helmet, 
bow, and, turning about, walk slowly to the rear. 

At the hour of armistice the line reached by the 
advanced guard ran from Montbliart in the south, west 
of Sautain, through the Bois de Martinsart, round the 
eastern edge of Grandrieu to the western skirts of Cou- 
solre. It represented the easternmost point gained by 
any troops of the British Armies in France. The South 
Africans had the honour of finishing the War as the 
spear-point of the advance to victory. 



The Price of Victory — The Special Strength of the Brigade — An 
Example of True Race Integration — ^The Nation and the 

THERE is no need to pursue the chronicle of the 
Brigade through the slow months of demobilization, 
till in the following June the bulk of its members 
embarked for home in a German liner handed over to 
Britain under the terms of peace. When on that grey 
November morning the guns fell silent, it had accom- 
plished the task to which it had dedicated itself in the 
summer of 191 5. It had travelled a long road in the 
three years. Brought suddenly, after its short campaign 
in Egypt, into the thick of the fiercest struggle in the 
West, it had performed every duty allotted to it with 
whole-hearted devotion and supreme competence. Never 
more than a few thousand in numbers, and perpetually 
short of drafts, it had won for its country of origin a 
name in the field as proud as that of far larger and more 
populous territories. There is no soldier living who 
would deny that in quality the South Africans ranked 
with the best troops of any army. Twice by its own self- 
sacrifice the Brigade had been reduced to a handful, and 

(2,097) 257 17 


had lost all semblance of a unit, and on each occasion 
its loss had been the salvation of the British cause. 
At Delville Wood, at Marrieres Wood, and at Messines 
it had proved to what heights of resolution a defence 
may rise : in attack at Arras, at Third Ypres, and at 
Le Cateau it had shown the world, in Napier's famous 
words, " with what majesty the British soldier fights/' 
The little contingent, one among some hundred British 
brigades, occupied small space on the battle-map. But 
scale must not be confused with kind ; the men of 
Leonidas were not the less Spartans because they were 
only three hundred. 

In the long road to victory they had left many of 
their best by the wayside. The casualties in France 
were close on 15,000, nearly 300 per cent, of the 
original strength. Of these some 5,000 were dead. As 
evidence of the fury of the Western campaign, it may be 
noted that the South African contingent in East Africa 
was nearly twice the size of the forces in France from 
beginning to end, but its losses were not more than a 
quarter of theirs. How many, especially of the younger 
officers, whose names are recorded in the earlier actions, 
survived to advance on Le Cateau } Yet the amazing 
thing is that in a Brigade which was so often severely 
engaged, and in which the uttermost risks were cheer- 
fully and habitually taken, any came through the three 
years' struggle. There are men who fought from Agagia 
to Le Cateau and have now returned to the mine and the 
farm to be living witnesses to their miraculous Odyssey. 

Wherein lay the peculiar strength of the Brigade ? 
It has been a war of many marvels. We have seen pasty- 
faced youths from the slums of cities toughen into 


redoubtable soldiers, and boys new from office-stool and 
college classroom become on the instant leaders of men 
and Berserks in battle. The Brigade had the initial 
advantage of drawing upon men of a fine physique, and, 
in many cases, of practical experience in a rough and 
self-reliant life. Its recruits, too, as I have already said, 
showed a high average of education, and many who 
never left the ranks were well qualified for commissions. 
They developed rapidly a perfect esprit de corps ^ which, 
because they were so few and so far from home, was 
more than the solidarity of a fighting unit, and became 
something like the spirit of a race and a nation. I do 
not think a more perfect brotherhood-in-arms could 
have been found on any front. Lastly, they were com- 
manded by officers who had their full confidence and 
affection. The successive brigadiers, the battalion and 
battery commanders, and every officer understood the 
meaning of ** team-work," and loved and respected the 
troops they led. 

There is one quality of the South Africans which 
deserves especial mention — I mean their curious modesty. 
A less boastful body of men never appeared in arms. 
They had a horror of any kind of advertisement. No 
war correspondent attended them to chronicle their 
doings ; no picturesque articles in the press enlightened 
the public at home. That may have been bad for the 
Allied cause ; but assuredly it was what they wished 
themselves. They had in a high degree the traditional 
British love of understatement, and no old regular was 
ever a greater adept at pitching things in a low key. To 
talk to them after a hard-fought action was to hear a tale 
of quite ordinary and prosaic deeds, in which little credit 


was sought for themselves but much given to others. 
They had that gentle and inflexible pride which is too 
proud to make claims, and leaves the bare fact to be its 
trumpeter. I believe that to be a quality of South 
Africa. She is so ancient a land that she does not need 
to brag and hustle like newer peoples, but comports 
herself with the quiet good-breeding of long descent. 
She has been through so many furnaces that she has 
won dignity and simplicity. These were most notably 
the traits of her forces on the Western front. They 
feared very little on earth except the reputation of 
heroes ; and if in this book I have done violence to 
that fine tradition, I can only make them my apology 
and plead the debt of the historian to truth. 

The story which I have endeavoured to tell is to be 
regarded in the first place as the achievement of a people 
— ^that South African people in which the union of two 
race-stocks is in process of consummation. The war 
record of South Africa, from whatever angle it is regarded, 
is one to be proud of. To the different fronts she con- 
tributed over 136,000 white troops — nearly 10 per cent, 
of her total white population, and some 20 per cent, of 
her male white population. But, great as was her work 
in other battlegrounds, to my mind her chief glory is 
her achievement in France. The campaigns in German 
East and South- West Africa might be regarded as frontier 
wars, fought for the immediate defence of her borders 
and her local interests. But to come into line in the 
main struggle far away in Europe meant an understanding 
of the deeper issues of the Great War. Her sons in 
France did not fight in the narrow sense for Britain ; they 
fought for that liberal civilization of which the British 


Commonwealth is the humble guardian; they fought 
for that South African nation which could not hope to 
live till Germany's challenge to liberty was answered. 
There were many in the Brigade who had still quick 
in their hearts an affection for the northern islands from 
which they had sprung ; but there were many to whom 
Britain was only a faint memory, and many in whom her 
name woke no enthusiasm. There were men of Dutch 
blood who had fought stoutly against us in the old South 
African War, and now fought like crusaders, not for our 
Empire, but for the greater faith by which alone that 
Empire can be justified. All honour to those who were 
not beguiled by the chatter of a shallow racialism, which, 
let it be remembered, is the eternal foe of nationality ; 
who, without the homely sentiment and intimate loyalties 
which inspired the British-born, battled for an austere 
faith and an honourable ideal of their country's future. 

Ever since eighteen years ago I had first the privilege 
to know South Africa, I have cherished the belief that 
the Dutch stock there is one of the finest in the world, 
and the most akin in fundamentals to our own ; and that 
the future must bring to the two races some such union 
in spirit and in truth as links to-day the " auld enemies " 
of England and Scotland. The War has enlarged that 
hope. Never during its three years was there a spark of 
racial feeling in the ranks of the Brigade. No Dutchman 
ever cavilled at the appointment of an Englishman ; no 
Englishman or Scot but gave his full confidence to a 
Dutch superior. All were South Africans and citizens of 
no mean country. The Brigade was a microcosm of 
what South Africa may yet become if the fates are kind. 
It was a living example of true race integration. 


The story may be regarded also as a record of plain 
human achievement, of what heights are possible in the 
** difficult but not desperate " life of man. To indi- 
viduals, as to nations, comes at rare intervals the su- 
preme test of manhood. It is often an open choice : 
there are excellent arguments why the smooth rather 
than the rough road should be taken. The men of the 
Brigade enlisted voluntarily, under no conscription of 
law — not even under the social coercion of universal 
recruiting ; their pay was the slender wage of the British 
regular ; they abandoned, most of them, good prospects 
in their different callings ; there was no reward before 
them save honour and a quiet conscience. They made, 
in another sense than Dante's Pope, the gran rifiutOy 
and preferred a rendezvous with death to comfort and 
ease. And having chosen, they were wholly resolved 
to endure to the end. Such a sacrifice is not made in 
vain, and against it the gates of death cannot prevail. 
The survivors face life with a new mastery over them- 
selves and their fates, and the remembrance of the 
fallen will be a glory and inspiration to the generations 
to come. 

Man cannot live always on the heights. It would 
not be well if he did, for the work of the world must be 
carried on among the flats beneath. But it is good to 
know that the hills are there, and it is better to have 
once sojourned among them. ... In the bushveld under 
the scarp of the Berg one may move for days in a parched 
and thorny land, where the dust hangs in clouds over 
the road, and dank thickets fringe unwholesome rivers. 
But to the west above the foothills rise green lines 
of upland, which by day seem no more than the bare 



top of a mountain, but at sunset glow like jewels in 
the heavens. Such a sight is welcome to the traveller, 
for it tells him that somewhere, and not too distant, there 
is a land of cool meadows and shining streams ; and 
from that secret country descend the waters which 
make fruitful the workaday plains. 




An apology is due for the relegation of so distinguished a service 
as the South African Heavy Artillery to an appendix, and for a 
sketch of a most honourable record which must necessarily be short 
and inadequate. To tell the story fully would involve the rewriting 
of the history of the campaign in the West from a special angle ; and 
the point of view of a siege battery, which in action is stationary 
though not immobile, and is on all occasions ancillary to the infantry 
work, is not the best from which to follow the main movements of 
war. The story of a battery, too, should include many technical 
matters which cannot properly find their place in a general history. 
But it is greatly to be hoped that detailed records will be pub- 
lished of the different South African artillery units, such as has 
already been most admirably prepared for the 71st Battery. Some 
of them were engaged in battles in which the Infantry Brigade 
had no part, and when the artillery story is added, the South 
African records cover almost the whole career of the British Army 
in France and Flanders. In particular, the doings of the 73rd 
Battery at the southern gatepost during the Battle of the Lys is 
a fitting accompaniment to the exploits of the Infantry Brigade 
at Messines in the north. 

We have already seen (Chapter I.) that the five batteries of 
the old South African Heavy Artillery Brigade were armed, on 
arriving in England, with 6-inch howitzers and affiliated to the 
Royal Garrison Artillery, becoming the 73rd, 74th, 71st, 72nd, and 
75th Siege Batteries, R.G.A. In April 1916 a sixth battery, the 
125th, was formed. Early in 1918 a seventh battery, the 542nd, 
and an eighth, the 4g6th, were created, but when they arrived in 
France they were broken up, and their guns and personnel dis- 



tributed, the first between the 75th and the 125th, and the second 
between the 72nd and 74th. A ninth battery, the 552nd, armed 
with 8-inch guns, was formed in the autumn of 1918, but the War 
ended before it could be brought into action. We have therefore 
to deal with six siege batteries, which were engaged in France from 
the summer of 1916 to the date of the armistice. At first the 
batteries were independent units, being allotted to widely separated 
corps and heavy artillery groups. It was not till the beginning of 
1918 that they were brought together, and two South African 
Brigades formed, the 44th and the 50th— the 44th including the 
73rd (S.A.), 71st (S.A.), 125th (S.A), and 20th Batteries ; and the 
50th, the 74th (S.A.), 72nd (S.A.), 75th (S.A.), and 275th. It will be 
convenient to take the doings of each battery separately up to 
January 1918, and thereafter to deal with the record of the two 

The 73RD Siege Battery, R.G.A. 

This Battery, after its period of training in England, landed 
at Havre on May i, 1916, under the command of Major Walter 
Brydon. On 9th May it reached Bienvillers-au-Bois, in the Somme 
area, where it took up a battle position under the command of the 
19th Artillery Group. On 15th May it fired its first round for 
sighting purposes. On ist July, when the First Battle of the Somme 
began, it covered the infantry advance on Gommecourt, attaining 
the record of thirty-two rounds in eight minutes with each gun. 
On 17th July it moved to the village of Berles-au-Bois, and was 
engaged in smashing enemy trenches and counter-battery work 
in the neighbourhood of Monchy-au-Bois and Ransart. On 25th 
August it moved back to DouUens, and thence to Albert, where it 
took up position in the ruins of La Boisselle. Here it supported the 
attack on Pozieres, Courcelette, and Thiepval ; and Major Brydon 
was wounded while observing for the Battery in the front trenches. 
In October it advanced its position to Pozieres, where it suffered con- 
siderably from enemy fire, and had its fill of discomforts from the 
weather of that appalling winter. In February 1917 Major Brydon 
returned to duty ; and on the 15th of that month two officers of 
the Battery, Lieutenant Campion and Second-Lieutenant J. Currie, 
advancing with the infantry to the capture of Boom ravine, rallied 
two companies whose officers had all been killed, and captured 


two strong machine-gun posts. Lieutenant Campion fell in this 
gallant exploit, and Second-Lieutenant Currie received the D.S.O. 

In March, in a heavy snowfall, the Battery left the Somme and 
went north to the Arras area, where, in the Battle of Arras on gth 
April, it supported the attack of the Canadians on Vimy Ridge. 
By noon the advance had progressed so far that the Battery was 
out of range, and moved forward first to ficurie and then to Th^lus. 
Th^lus proved a hot comer, and the Battery had many casualties, 
notably on ist May, Major Brydon being wounded for the second 
time. Soon after it was relieved and retired to Houdain, its first 
spell out of the line since its arrival in France. It returned to 
Thelus on 28th May, Captain P. A. M. Hands being temporarily 
in command, and remained there till the last day of June, when 
it was transferred to Flanders. Its new position was in the Ypres 
salient, at the village of Zillebeke, close to Hill 60, where it was 
much exposed to the enemy's fire, and within 1,000 yards of his front 
lines. Owing to this, working parties had to be sent up overnight, 
going in single file for over three miles, past such places of proved 
unhealthiness as " Hell Fire Comer " and " Shrapnel Comer." 
The guns were in position by the 17th July, and on the 25th Major 
Brydon came back from hospital. The Battery was bombed night 
and day by enemy aircraft, and had no means of making shell- 
proof cover, for the water was only two feet below the surface of 
the ground. On 29th August it was relieved for a short space, but 
it was not till ist November that it finally left Zillebeke and the 
Second Battle of Ypres. During the four months there it had 
nine guns put out of action by hostile fire. On 7th October Major 
Brydon was gassed, and went to hospital for the third time. 

The Battery returned to its old ground at Thelus, which had now 
become a quiet area, and on nth November moved to Lievin, west 
of Lens. Here it had comfortable quarters, and was busy preparing 
positions in anticipation of an attack. It pulled out for Christmas 
to Bethune, and on January 5, 1918, took up position at Loisne, 
where it received news of its inclusion in the new 44th (S.A.) 
Brigade, R.G.A. 

The 71ST Siege Battery, R.G.A. 

The 71st Battery arrived at Havre on April 16, 1916, under 
the command of Major H. C. Harrison. It was destined for the 


impending operations on the Somme, and its first position was at 
Mailly-Maillet in the VIII. Corps area. On 2nd June, however, 
it was ordered north to Ypres, where the Canadians at the moment 
were heavily engaged. On the i8th it returned to Mailly-Maillet, 
where it participated in the opening days of the First Battle of the 
Somme. On 5th July it moved to Becordel, and supported the 
attack on Mametz Wood, Ovillers, and Contalmaison, and the 
September attack on Martinpuich and Flers. On 20th September 
it moved forward to Bazentin, where till the close of the year it 
was engaged in battling with the problem of the Somme mud. 
After a short period of rest it was at Ovillers on January 2, 1917, 
and during February and March moved slowly eastward, following 
the German retreat. In April it was engaged against the Hinden- 
burg line, and had a share in the fierce fighting around BuUecourt. 
In July and August it had a position at Croisilles, some 2,000 yards 
from the enemy front. One sector moved north on 31st August 
to a position just outside the Menin gate at Ypres, and the rest of 
the Battery followed on 15th September. There it took part in 
the Third Battle of Ypres, supporting the attack of the South 
African Brigade on 20th September, the first occasion when it was 
in action along with its own infantry. Its position was badly 
exposed, and it suffered many casualties from enemy shell fire and 
air-bombing, till it was relieved on 22nd October. 

Much worn out, it now moved to Lievin, in the Lens area, 
where for a little it had a quieter life. On 8th November it handed 
over its guns to the 73rd (S.A.) Siege Battery, and with the guns 
of the latter went south to Bapaume. Its new position was in the 
outskirts of Gouzeaucourt, where, on 20th November, it shared in 
the Battle of Cambrai. The German counter-attack of the 30th 
came very near its position, and during those stormy days the 
Battery, under the command of Major P. N. G. Fitzpatrick, did 
brilliant work under great difficulties. Unhappily, on 14th Decem- 
ber, at Beaumetz, Major Fitzpatrick was killed by a chance shell. 
On the 18th the guns were withdrawn to Beaumetz, and by the 
end of the month the Battery was on the front between Bethune 
and Lens, one section going to La Bourse, and the other to Beuvry. 
Here it became part of the 44th (S.A.) Brigade, 


The 125TH Siege Battery, R.G.A. 

The 125th Battery was first organized on April 4, 1916, under 
the command of Major R. P. G. Begbie. It arrived at Havre on 
2ist July, and reached the Third Army area on 26th July, during 
the fourth week of the First Battle of the Somme. Its position 
was at Sailly-au-Bois, on the extreme left of the battle-ground, 
where its principal targets were the German batteries at Puisieux, 
Bucquoy, and Grandcourt. On 19th October it moved to the 
eastern edge of Englebelmer Wood, where it was attached to Sir 
Hubert Gough's Fifth Army. Here it " prepared " and partici- 
pated in the attack on Beaumont -Hamel on 13th November. It 
was a difficult task, for its gun positions were remote from the 
road, and every 100 lb. shell had to be carried some 400 yards 
through a swamp, until eventually a line of rails was laid. On 
January 20, 1917, the Battery moved to a new position on the 
Auchonvillers road, half a mile north of Mailly-Maillet, where for 
the next few weeks it was engaged by enemy batteries and a German 
heavy calibre naval gun, and suffered many losses. On 22nd 
February it moved into Beaumont-Hamel, where it had better 

On 22nd March, over impossible roads, the Battery moved north 
to Arras, where its first position was beside the Faubourg d'Amiens. 
On the second day of the battle of Arras it moved east to St. 
Sauveur, and on i6th April it went forward a mile east of Tilloy-les- 
Mofflaines, on the Arras-Cambrai road. Here it was much exposed, 
and three days later it moved back to the wood of Tilloy. For the 
next month its guns were constantly in action by day and night. On 
nth May it pulled out for a much needed rest, during which time 
it received reinforcements which brought it up to strength. On 
i8th June it moved to Roclincourt, in the Oppy section, where the 
first leave to England was granted. On 21st July it took up posi- 
tion at Vermelles-les-B6thune, in the Lens area. Here it came 
under the First Army, and from the 15th to the 23rd August was 
heavily engaged in supporting the attack of the Canadians on 
Hill 70, east of Loos. On the evening of the latter day it moved 
forward into the ruins of Loos, and rendered brilliant service in 
the action of the 24th. Its cables were constantly cut by shell 
fire, and on 5th September it had 28 casualties from a deluge of 


German gas shells. The personnel of the Battery was withdrawn 
to rest between the gth and 2ist of September, but from the latter 
date till 8th October it resumed its work in that section. When 
the four guns were brought back to Bethune, it was found that not 
one was fit for further action. 

The Battery was now attached to the Belgian Army as one of 
the thirteen siege batteries constituting the XIV. Corps Heavy 
Artillery. Its position was in the swampy country in the neigh- 
bourhood of Steenvoorde and Oostkerke. On 3rd December it 
moved to the La Bassee area, and rejoined the First Army, 
taking up position at Annequin. On January 9, 1918, there came 
a short space of rest near Lillers. Major Begbie handed over the 
command to Major J. G. Stewart, and the Battery became part 
of the 44th (S.A.) Brigade. 

The 44TH (South African) Heavy Artillery Brigade. 

On January 29, 1918, Lieutenant-Colonel T. H. Blew, D.S.O., 
of the South African Defence Force, took command of the Brigade, 
with headquarters at Beuvry Chateau. The four batteries were 
in position east and south of Bethune. During February and March 
this was a quiet sector, but the batteries were busy preparing 
reserve positions in depth in view of a possible German attack. 
From the first day of April the guns were actively engaged in 
counter-battery work. 

The German assault came on 9th April, and one of its main 
objectives was the right pillar of the British front at Givenchy, 
held by the 55th Division. All the battery positions of the Brigade, 
except that of the 125th, had been located by the enemy, who from 
the early morning drenched them with high explosives and gas 
shells. For a time all communications with Brigade Headquarters 
were cut. The falling back of the division on their left allowed 
the enemy to advance almost up to their gun positions. The 73rd 
Battery was in the most hazardous case, and owing to the shelling 
it was impossible to bring up motor transport to evacuate its guns. 
Major Brydon, who had returned the month before from hospital 
to the command of the Battery, was ordered to blow up his guns, 
but instead he served out rifles and a couple of machine guns to 
his men, and bade them stand to. At one time he had to send 


the breech-blocks to the rear for safety, but the attack was stayed 
before it reached the guns, and the breech-blocks were brought 
back. Though wounded and gassed, he refused to leave his Battery. 
Finally he was compelled to retire. The men dragged the guns 
for nearly a mile under cover of darkness, and by 2 a.m. on the 
morning of the loth a new position had been found, and the Battery 
was again in action. The casualties of the Brigade that day were 
13 men killed, and 6 officers and 29 men wounded. 

The stand on the 9th checked the enemy for a time, and all 
batteries were able to take up less exposed positions. They suf- 
fered, however, from a continuous bombardment, and on the 
12th the heroic commander of the 73rd was killed by a shell. He 
had left the doctor's hands when a severe burst of German fire 
began, and had hurried forward to see to his guns. No officer 
in the British Army had a finer record for gallantry and devotion 
to duty. His Battery was known everywhere on the front as 
*' Brydon's Battery," and he was beloved by his men, for his only 
thought was for them. During the 9th, though wounded himself, 
he helped to dress the other wounded, and when the men at the 
guns began to show signs of exhaustion, he himself dealt out rum 
to them. Finally he went through a downpour of shells to find 
a doctor and more dressings. It was one of the many ironies of 
the war that he never received the Victoria Cross, for he won it a 
dozen times. Let his epitaph be the words of a gunner in his Battery, 
who had served with' him only a few weeks, and who on the 9th 
had his arms and legs shot away. Major Brydon stopped and 
asked if he could do anything for him. The dying man raised 
himself on his stumps. " By God, Brydon," he cried, " you are a 
man. Fm only good for the parson now, but Fm proud to die 
under you." 

The i8th of April saw another severe bombardment, when five 
officers of the 73rd Battery were gassed — Captain P. A. M. Hands, 
the second in command, and Second-Lieutenants Maasdorp and 
Brown dying of the effects. This meant a loss to the Brigade, since 
the 9th, of five officers dead. The expenditure of ammunition 
during that period had been enormous : the 71st Battery, for ex- 
ample, fired 11,000 rounds. The Brigade remained on the same 
front till the 27th June, when it was brought out to rest. On the 
27th July Lieutenant-Colonel Blew relinquished his command, 
being succeeded temporarily by Major E. H. Tamplin, who, on 

(2,097) 18 


17th August, handed over to Lieutenant-Colonel G. M. Bennett, 
formerly commanding the 74th Battery. 

On returning to the line on 2nd August, the Brigade took up 
positions farther south in the neighbourhood of HuUuch. On the 
22nd its Headquarters were heavily shelled, and one member of the 
staff was killed. During August and September the batteries 
supported the steady pressure maintained along this sector in 
anticipation of the German retirement, all moving to forward 
positions. On the 2nd October the enemy fell back three miles to 
the line of the Haute-Deule Canal, and the advance of the Fifth 
Army began. As soon as roads were repaired, the guns moved 
up to Douvrin, HuUuch, and Wingles, and on the 12th October 
assisted in the capture of Vendin by the 15th Division. Owing to 
the difficulty of bridging the many canals, siege batteries could 
only follow very slowly, and the Germans were on the line of the 
Scheldt before they came again into action. The enemy kept up 
a heavy bombardment during the first week of November, and on 
the night of the 6th the Brigade suffered its last casualties in the 
war. The bridging of the Scheldt was in rapid progress, and the 
batteries were preparing to advance across the river, when on the 
nth hostilities ceased. 

The 74TH Siege Battery, R.G.A. 

The 74th Battery landed at Havre on April 30, 1916, under the 
command of Major Pickburn. It proceeded to Authuille, and on 
4th May took up position at Bienvillers-au-Bois. On the first 
day of the First Battle of the Somme its four guns fired 1,733 
rounds, supporting the unsuccessful attack of the infantry at 
Gommecourt. It then took over the position of the 73rd Battery, 
and later on, 27th August, moved to the Martinsart-Aveluy road 
for the operations against Thiepval. On 7th October it was in the 
orchard at Colincamp, a place without cover and a favourite target 
for the enemy. There it spent some desperate weeks. On 7th 
November the battery-commander. Major Pickburn, was killed. 
On the 20th November the enemy kept up a severe bombardment 
all day, and four gunners lost their lives. It was the same on the 
29th, when an armour-piercing shell penetrated to a cellar pro- 
tected by seven feet of earth and bricks, and killed the three 


occupants. The position was really untenable for a heavy battery, 
but it was held till early in December, when a move was made to 
Auchonvillers. It presently moved to Gouy-en-Artois, and then to 
Arras and the Faubourg d'Amiens. In the early weeks of the 
year it was at Riviere, opposite Ficheux, and then again in a suburb 
of Arras. 

In the battle of Arras the Battery supported the advance of the 
South African Infantry Brigade, and on the 12th its right section 
was in the old German line at Point de Jour, supporting the fighting 
in the Oppy, Gavrelle, and Roeux area. At that time they were 
the farthest forward siege guns on the British front. There the 
Battery continued till the battle died away. Major Tamplin was 
gassed and returned to England, Major Murray-MacGregor taking 
over the command. By 5th July the whole Battery had moved to 
the Ypres neighbourhood, where it took up ground on the canal 
bank near "Shrapnel Corner." There, during the first stages of 
Third Ypres, it suffered the usual fate of combatants in the Salient. 
Major Murray-MacGregor was succeeded in the command by Major 
G. M. Bennett. Presently it moved to a position on the Verbranden- 
Molen road, and a little later to Hooge. This was its station during 
the remainder of the battle. It had many casualties from shell, 
fire, and gas, and the reliefs coming by the Menin road had to face 
an incessant enemy barrage. The total men available on each 
shift were only seventeen for all four guns, and had not three of 
the guns been knocked out the task would have been impos- 
sible. When at last the Battery was withdrawn, it was reduced 
to I gun and 70 men. 

On 2 1st December the Battery, now brought up to strength, 
went back to the line as part of the 50th (S.A.) Brigade, R.G.A. 

The 72ND Siege Battery, R.G.A. 

The 72nd Battery landed in France on April 21, 1916, under 
the command of Major C. W. Alston. Its first position was at 
Mailly-Maillet, where with a very short allowance of ammunition 
it entered upon its field experience. It was sent to Ypres on 3rd 
June along with the 71st to assist the Canadians, where it had some 
hard fighting. Major Alston being severely wounded, and Captain 
A. G. MuUins taking over the command. Returning to Mailly, it 


took part in the opening days of the First Somme, and then moved 
first to Englebelmer, and then to Authuille. This last was an 
excellent position, with a steep bank in front of the guns and the 
Ancre in the rear. The Battery remained there for eight months, 
until the retirement of the enemy enabled it to advance to Thiepval 
and Grandcourt. 

On March 22, 1917, it moved to the Arras neighbourhood, 
taking up ground near Berthonval Wood, a few miles east of Mont 
St. Eloi. From this position the Battery shared in the battle for 
Vimy, after the fall of which it moved forward to Souchez, under 
the northern end of the ridge. On 30th April it retired to Houdain 
for its first spell of rest since it arrived in France. On 12th May 
it was at Thelus, and four days later it was transferred to the 
ist Canadian Heavy Artillery Group, and took up position at 
Zouave valley, near Givenchy, in the Vimy area. There it 
remained for three months, supporting the Canadian attack 
at Lens. 

On 25th October the Battery went north with the Canadian 
Corps to Ypres, where it relieved the 73rd (S.A.) Siege Battery 
in a peculiarly unhealthy spot between Zillebeke and Observatory 
Ridge. There, during the first twenty-four hours, it had twelve 
casualties. On 17th October the command was taken over by 
Captain C. P. Ward. On January 11, 1918, after a period of rest, 
the Battery took up position behind the Damm Strasse, near Wyt- 
schaete. It was now brigaded with the 50th (S.A.) Brigade. 

The 75TH Siege Battery, R.G.A. 

The 75th Battery reached France on April 24, 1916, under the 
command of Major W. H. L. Tripp. It took up its position on the 
outskirts of the town of Albert, near the hospital, being attached 
to the III. Corps. It participated in the " preparation " for the 
First Battle of the Somme, and on ist July fired 1,312 rounds before 
noon. On 14th July it moved to Becourt Wood, and on the 29th 
to a position north of Fricourt Wood. Here it supported the 
attack of 15th September. On the 21st of that month it moved 
to the wood of Bazentin-le-Grand, where it was in touch with the 
South African Infantry Brigade during its fight at the Butte de 
Warlencourt, On January 29, 1917, it moved back to Albert, 

Lieutenant-Colonel W. H. L. TRIPP, D.S.O., M.C., 
Commanding 75th Siege Battery, S.A.H.A., August 1915-January 191&*, 
then 50th (S.A.) Brigade, R.G.A. 


and early in February went south of the Somme into the old French 
area. There it advanced as the Germans fell back, crossing the 
Somme at Peronne on 25th March, and occupying ground succes- 
sively at Templeux-la-Fosse and Longavesnes. On 6th April, at 
St. Emilie, it fired its first shot against the Hindenburg Line, and 
remained in that area till the end of June, when it moved north to 

By 13th July all four guns were in position on the Vlamer- 
tinghe-Elverdinghe road, where, owing to the flat country, the 
Battery had great difficulty in finding suitable O.P.'s. On the 
night of 30th July it moved forward to the bank of the Ypres 
Canal, where it supported the opening of the Third Battle of 
Ypres. Later it advanced to the Pilckem ridge, where in a much 
exposed position it supported the attack on Houthulst Forest and 
Passchendaele. It was exceptionally fortunate, for in all the 
period from 31st July to 20th December it had only one officer 
casualty. In the middle of December it went south to the Zille- 
beke lake, and on January 11, 1918, it moved to the Damm Strasse, 
near Wytschaete. It was now part of the 50th Brigade. 

The 50TH (South African) Heavy Artillery Brigade. 

This Brigade was formed during January 1918, under the 
command of Lieutenant-Colonel W. H. L. Tripp, D.S.O., M.C., 
formerly of the 75th Battery. On 28th January it was attached 
to the Australian Corps, occupying positions between Zillebeke and 
Wytschaete. On 26th February it went into General Head- 
quarters Reserve, being encamped near Bailleul. On 6th March 
the 496th (S.A.) Siege Battery arrived, and was split up between 
the 72nd and 74th Batteries, making these six-gun batteries. On 
loth March the Brigade was ordered to prepare positions behind 
the Portuguese divisions, but the orders were cancelled. On 13th 
March it was attached to Sir H. Plumer's Second Army. On 
the 24th, after the great German attack had been launched at 
St. Quentin, it began to move southwards, and on the 28th 
was at Neuville St. Vaast during the German assault on Arras. 
On the 30th it was attached to the Canadian Corps. 

During April the batteries were in position at Roclincourt, to 
the north-east of Arras, and settled down to the familiar type of 


trench warfare. Since the whole military situation was uncertain 
at the moment, much time had to be spent on the preparation of 
reserve battery positions. Five series were selected, varying from 
three to fifteen miles behind those in use. On ist May the Brigade 
was ordered north, the 72nd and 74th Batteries joining the 
I. Corps near Mazingarbe, and the others going to the XIII. Corps, 
in the vicinity of Hinges. By the 3rd these orders were changed, 
and the whole Brigade was sent to Arras to the XVII. Corps. 
There it remained till the end of August, engaged in normal trench 
warfare. On 7th August Captain E. G. Ridley, M.C., was pro- 
moted major in command of the 74th Battery, to replace Major 
Bennett, who had gone to command the 44th Brigade. 

On 26th August the Brigade supported the advance of the 
Canadian Corps and the 51st Division, which resulted in the capture 
of Monchy. The batteries now began to move forward along the 
Arras-Cambrai road, where they were engaged in cutting the wire 
of the Drocourt-Queant switch. On ist September the medical 
officer of the Brigade, Captain G. R. Cowie, was seriously wounded, 
and died two days later. On the 2nd the Canadians carried the 
Drocourt-Queant switch, all the guns in the Brigade assisting in 
the preliminary bombardment and the subsequent barrage. Next 
day the Brigade passed under the XXII. Corps, which held the line 
of the Sensee, in order to protect the flank of the Canadian thrust 
towards Cambrai. No serious operations took place for more than 
three weeks ; but on the 27th came the great advance of the 
Canadian and XVII. Corps towards and beyond Cambrai, and it 
became clear that a general enemy retirement was a matter of 
days. On 3rd October Major Ridley left for England to form a 
new 8-inch S.A. battery, and his place in command of the 74th 
was taken by Major C. J. Forder, On the nth the Brigade came 
under the Canadian Corps. 

On the 12th the batteries advanced, first to Tortequesne, and 
then to Estrees and Noyelle. On the 19th they were at Lewarde. 
On the 20th a section of the 74th Battery moved to Wallers to 
support the Canadian attack. This was the last engagement of 
the Brigade in the War, for on the 24th it was placed in army 
reserve, and remained there till the armistice on nth November. 




Ar the beginning of the war the service of communications in 
the Imperial Army was organized as the Signals Branch of the 
Corps of Royal Engineers. This provided and maintained all 
communications, comprising Telegraphs, Telephones, Visual Sig- 
nalling, and Despatch Riders (Horse, Motor-Cycle, and Cycle). 
A Sign?" Service Company, suitably equipped and organized for 
its ixiultifarious duties, was provided in war establishments as a 
part of the headquarters of each of the higher formations — Divi- 
sion, Corps, and Army. The development of scientific trench war- 
fare on the Western Front vastly increased both the importance 
and the complexity of the communications of the contending 
armies ; and when, towards the close of the campaign in German 
South- West Africa, the composition of the Union Oversea Con- 
tingent was decided, the offer of a Divisional Signal Company 
was willingly accepted by the Imperial authorities. 

The raising of this Company was entrusted to Major N. Harri- 
son, Engineer-in-Chief of the Union Post Office, who had acted 
as Director of Signals to the Union Forces during the Rebellion 
and the German South-West African Campaign. For the accept- 
ance of his recruits Major Harrison set such a high standard of 
specialized knowledge, character, intelligence, and military experi- 
ence, that the assembling of the two hundred and thirty men of the 
original Company occupied the whole of August and September 
1915. Eventually a magnificent body of picked men were as- 
sembled in Potchefstroom Camp fully representative of all South 
Africa, from the Zambesi to Cape Town. In view of the technical 



nature of the new unit's duties, it was natural that a high pro- 
portion of the recruits should come from the Transvaal, and 
particularly the Witwatersrand. The relative figures were— 

Recruited in Transvaal . . .53-7 per cent. 
(Of these, 64 per cent, from Johannesburg.) 

Cape 25 

Natal 12.7 „ 

Orange Free State . . . . 6.6 „ 
Rhodesia, etc 2 „ 

The standard of physique was very high, and fully correspon- 
dent to the maturity shown by an average age of 28.4 years. The 
backbone of the Company consisted of skilled telegraphists and 
linemen from the Union Post Office, the majority of whom had 
served in German South- West Africa, and in previous wars. The 
drivers, whose excellent horsemanship impressed every one at the 
training centre in England, were recruited mainly from the farm- 
ing population, and included many young Dutchmen. 

By the beginning of October all the officers, who had been 
selected from officials of the engineering branch of the post office 
and electrical engineers of the Witwatersrand, had joined, and on 
the 17th October the unit, in company with the S.A.M.C. and 
details of the South African Brigade and S.A.H.A., sailed for 
England on the Kenilworth Castle, with a strength of six officers 
— Major N. Harrison commanding — Lieutenants J. A. Dingwall, 
R. H. Covernton, J. Jack, F. H. Michell, F. M. Ross— and 22^ 
other ranks. The Company arrived at Bordon Camp, Hants, on 
4th November. 


Owing to the demands of the German East African Campaign, 
in which the Union Government was now engaged, there was no 
prospect of infantry units for the Western Front beyond the one 
brigade already in England. As the South African Brigade would, 
therefore, constitute only one-third of the infantry of some Imperial 
division, the Company could not serve with the Infantry Brigade 


in the capacity of a divisional signal company, as originally con- 
templated. On the other hand, new army corps were in course 
of formation, and corps signal companies had to be raised and 
trained for them. A corps signal company requires a high pro- 
portion of skilled technicians in the ranks, and as, owing to the 
commanding officer's care in selecting his recruits, the company 
possessed such a proportion, the War Office decided that it should 
be reorganized in order to form a Corps Signal Company, and 
proceed to the Signal Service Training Centre in Bedford for the 
necessary specialized training. The Company accordingly en- 
trained for Hitchin on the 23rd November, and during the next 
few days was reorganized. 

A Corps Signal Company exists primarily to provide communi- 
cation between the headquarters of an army corps and the infantry 
divisions with their associated divisional field artilleries which 
constitute a corps. For this purpose it staffs and equips a Corps 
Headquarters Signal Office, including telephone exchange, telegraph 
and despatch rider offices ; constructs such telegraph and tele- 
phone lines to divisions as may be necessary or possible ; provides 
operators at the divisional ends of the lines, and runs and main- 
tains local telephone lines to the different sections of the corps 
staff, and to the different units of the corps troops. The corps 
troops — which are those units directly commanded by corps head- 
quarters — ^though negligible at the beginning of the war, increased 
enormously with the development of the Heavy Artillery, the 
Flying Corps, and the rest of the complicated technique of modern 
position warfare, until finally their communications dwarfed all 
others. In addition, the Corps Signal Company acts as a repair 
workshop, and issue store for the signal material and apparatus 
required by all units and formations within the corps ; assists with 
and correlates their signal arrangements, and provides electric 
lighting for corps headquarters. 

To provide for the night and day working and the manning of an 
advanced headquarters, the Headquarter Section was organized 
in three reliefs, each under a sergeant superintendent. To increase 
the number of lines which can be simultaneously run out during 
a general move, both Air Line and Cable Sections were divided 
into two detachments, each under a sergeant or corporal. Each 
air line detachment carried material for five miles of poled line 
on its lorries, and, after training, became capable of erecting this 


line at the rate of a mile an hour. Each cable detachment carried 
nine miles of cable, and learned to lay this out at the gallop when 
necessary, or at a normal rate of three miles an hour along roads 
where precautions for the preservation of the line had to be taken. 

On January 17, 1916, all sections were concentrated in order 
to continue their training as a company, and billeted in the small 
villages of Clifton, Shefford, and Broome, a few miles from Haynes 
Park. The following months were spent in continuous unit train- 
ing, interspersed with periods of combined training, known as 
" Signal Schemes." In these " schemes " numbers of signal units 
awaiting their turn for oversea were organized as armies — imaginary 
in all except their communications — and flung a moving network 
of lines across the Eastern Counties. It was an extremely valu- 
able and realistic training for mobile warfare. The drawing of the 
Company's mobilization equipment and the completion of the motor 
transport, with the A.S.C. personnel to operate it, followed the 
news of Verdun, and the day of embarkation for France was eagerly 
awaited. The men grew restive at the idea that the Infantry 
Brigade had already been in action in Egypt while they were still 
training in England. 

Towards the end of March Major Harrison went to France in 
order to acquire the atmosphere of the trenches. During his 
absence the great blizzard of 1916 destroyed much of the y.ost 
office and railway telegraph systems in the Midlands. All experi- 
enced men in the Company were turned out to assist in repairs, 
and the order to move to Southamption for France arrived when 
51 Air Line and portions of all cable sections were scattered 
on this work up to a radius of forty miles from headquarters. 
Nevertheless the Company was assembled in a few hours, and was 
ready to move off at noon next day, with its mass of stores packed 
complete in all respects. The headquarters and 51 Air Line 
moving by road in their lorries, and the cable sections by train 
from Hitchin, reassembled at Southampton on the loth April, 
and, sailing in the S.S. Investigator with one of the S.A.H.A. 
batteries, landed at Havre on the 21st. 


After a day at Havre the move was continued — ^motor trans- 
port sections by road and cable sections by train — to Vignacourt. 


At this village in the Somme Valley, between Abbeville and Amiens, 
the headquarters of the newly constituted XV. Corps was con- 
centrating under Lieutenant-General Home, and Major Harrison, 
on the 23rd April, was appointed Assistant Director of Army 
Signals — i.e. Staff Officer for Signals to the Corps Commander. 
The Company now became the XV. Corps Signal Company, and 
served continuously with that Corps throughout the remainder of 
the war. A few days later the Corps moved into line between the 
III. and XIII. Corps, becoming a part of the Fourth Army under 
General Sir H. Rawlinson, and took over the sector fronting Fri- 
court and Mametz, between Becourt and Carnoy. On the 30th 
April the Company took over from the XIII. Corps Signal Com- 
pany at Heilly, a village on the Ancre, near Corbie. B.F. and E.G. 
sections were sent to join the headquarters of the two divisions 
in line — ^the 7th and 21st respectively — and B.F. section proceeded 
to Ville-sur-Ancre, where Brigadier-General Napier, commanding 
the Corps Heavy Artillery, had his headquarters, and took charge 
of the Heavy Artillery's communications on the 27th April. 

The experience of previous battles had shown that, next to 
an adequate aitillery, the primary technical condition for a suc- 
cessful offensive was good and reliable communication between 
the assaulting infantry, the directing staffs, and the supporting 
artillery. Overground wires, no matter how multiplied, failed 
immediately under the counter-barrage. Visual signalling, slow at 
the best, was generally ineffective because of the smoke and dust 
of the barrage, the exposure of the personnel, and the unsuitability 
of the terrain, so faith was now pinned on cables laid in deep 
trenches for thousands of yards in rear of the front line, carrier 
pigeons, and runners. As soon as the area could be thoroughly 
surveyed, a programme of work was drawn up covering : — 

(a) Reconstruction of and additions to the inadequate open 
wire routes in the back area, from Corps headquarters up 
to behind Meaulte, Morlancourt, and the Bois des Tallies, 
sufficient to cope with the number of units and formations 
to be thrown in for the battle, and suitably designed and 
located for rapid extension along the probable roads of the 
anticipated advance. 

(b) A complete network of cable trenches extending from the 
heads of the open wire routes to the front line, providing 


telephone communication down to company and battery 
command posts and artillery observation posts. 

In the early part of 1916 the deficiencies of technical equip- 
ment, in the supply of materials and of labour, were still great. 
The Signal Sections were then equipped for mobile warfare only, 
and found themselves carrying out heavy semi-permanent work 
with scarcely any of the usual tools and appliances. The work of 
the Ministry of Munitions had not yet produced its full fruits in 
supply, and though the Deputy-Director of Army Signals — Colonel 
R. G. Earle — did everything possible to meet the Company's 
requirements, signal material — particularly cable — was scanty, and 
deliveries of a hand-to-mouth order. The Labour Corps was then 
a thing of the future, and, therefore, the whole of the massive 
works required for the offensive — roads, railways, dumps, dug- 
outs, etc. — had to be performed by the infantry in their turns 
out of the line. In such circumstances there was never enough 
labour to go round, and it required all the commanding ofP^er's 
tact and persuasiveness to secure the minimum of digging labour 
required for the cable trenches ; all other unskilled work had to 
be thrown on the skilled sappers of the Company, and to free the 
outdoor men for construction, the telegraphists, after a long day 
at their instruments, had often to spend half the night loading and 
off-loading in the forward area masses of cable, poles, and line 

Labour for the Heavy Artillery cable trenches was not secured 
till June, when two battalions from each division were placed under 
the direction of Lieutenant Ross for this work. Digging the 
trenches and laying cable were then pressed forward continu- 
ously night and day. Much of the work was only possible at 
night, as the ground was under direct observation, and the few 
skilled sappers available, after working most of the night with 
infantry digging parties, had to be turned out again at dawn, day 
after day, to take charge of scratch cable-laying parties made up 
from the signallers of batteries. The Heavy Artillery allotment 
for the XV. Corps in the coming battle was twenty-three batteries, 
organized in five groups, and an independent railway batter}^ The 
tactical conditions made the communication problem one of peculiar 
difficulty, because they enforced the siting of the batteries in two 
main clusters — one in the valley of the Ancre and the other in 


Happy Valley — both on the extreme flanks of the Corps* frontage. 
Further, owing to the enemy's tenure of the Fricourt salient, many 
batteries, to carry out their work, had to establish communication 
with observation posts sited on the opposite fiank of the Corps area 
to the position of the batteries, and the most favourable O.P. 
positions lay far outside the Corps boundaries. The fact that many 
of the batteries only took position and settled on their O.P.'s in 
the last few days was an additional complication. 

When these difficulties had been more or less successfully dis- 
posed of and laying commenced, a minor but vital detail in the 
material threatened disaster. The cable coming forward proved 
to be mainly single D 5 — i.e. the standard army cable as supplied 
for overground use in mobile warfare, when few lines are laid and 
there is no objection to the earth constituting the return circuit. 
The results already known to have been obtained by the enemy 
in picking up our messages through earth by means of sensitive 
listening telephone apparatus, had already caused the issue of 
stringent orders that all lines within 1,600 yards — later increased 
to 3,000 yards — of the front line must be metallic circuits — i.e. 
each line had to consist of a pair of insulated wires. Also, owing 
to inductive effects when a number of pairs of wires are laid closely 
parallel to each other, as in a trench, a conversation over one pair 
will be heard in the other circuits unless each pair is twisted. The 
use of the single cable, therefore, not only doubled the work of 
laying (as each line necessitated two separate wires), but the un- 
twisted pairs so formed would render the lines noisy and possibly 
entirely unworkable. Utilizing the frame of a cable wagon trail, 
and one of its wheels as a foundation, a machine was rapidly 
improvised by the section on which the drums of single cable were 
mounted as received, spun into twisted cable, and simultaneously 
reeled off on other drums for the laying parties. This apparatus 
was kept going and running at high pressure by the section 
wheeler. Sapper Page, with a few Artillery Headquarters' grooms 
and batmen as his only available assistants. 

By such strenuous efforts the programme was completed, and 
when the preparatory bombardment opened, 500 miles of cable had 
been laid and joined up in over twenty miles of cable trench, and 
every battery had excellent and reliable communication forward 
to its observation posts and back to its group commander. Two 
dug-outs had been constructed on each flank, into which all O.P. 


lines were led and terminated on special switchboards, designed 
and made up at the Company Headquarters. 

Through these O.P. exchanges any battery could be connected 
to any O.P. for control of fire, which proved most valuable in the 
changing circumstances of the fighting. At that date the estab- 
lishment of neither groups nor batteries included switchboards 
for metallic circuit lines. The necessary number — over thirty — 
were improvised in a few days at the Company workshops out of 
electric light fittings purchased in Amiens. 

Meanwhile the other sections working at similar high pressure 
had completed the main communications from Corps Headquarters 
to the Battle Headquarters of the divisions, the 7th in dug-outs 
near Groveton, and the 21st in dug-outs on the edge of the plateau 
above M^aulte, and B.F. section had established and staffed a 
Corps Advanced Exchange at Morlancourt. The Carrier Pigeon 
Service had been organized and arrangements made for the syste- 
matic distribution of pigeons to the assaulting biigades from the 
main lofts in Heilly, Albert, and Meaulte, and the most rapid 
circulation from the pigeon lofts to all staffs concerned of informa- 
tion contained in messages brought by the birds returning from 
the front line. 

A wireless detachment was supplied from Fourth Army Signals, 
and the personnel completed by skilled operators selected from 
the Company. The Headquarters Station was fixed on the high 
ground near the Bray-Albert road on the cable trench between the 
two O.P. exchanges, and provided with direct communication to 
Corps through the underground system, and mobile stations were 
attached to the Signals of the attacking divisions. The Corps 
Staff Observation Posts in Peronne Avenue trench and the Grand 
Stand above Bonte Redoubt were connected by direct lines to the 
General Staff at Headquarters in Heilly, about ten miles off, and 
the special linemen provided to look after these lines kept them 
through without interruption during the attack. 


In the early morning of the ist July, after a continuous bom- 
bardment from the 25th June, the XV. Corps attacked with the 
7th Division on the right, the 21st on the left, and the 17th in sup- 

Lieutenant-Colonel N. HARRISON, C.M.G., D.S.O. 
Commanding South African Signal Company (R.E.). 


port. Hopes of a decisive victory ran high, and all signal arrange- 
ments for a rapid advance were in readiness, including the lines 
necessary to divert communications to Vivier Mill, outside Meaulte, 
which was to be the first bound of the Corps Headquarters, while 
the cable sections stood by with wagons packed during the 
morning. In spite of the gallantry of the infantry assault — which 
several of "the Company were privileged to witness from the ad- 
vanced trenches — by the evening it was clear that no great depth 
would be attained. 

The village of Fricourt was still holding out, and had repulsed 
a. frontal attack with heavy loss, while the converging attacks of 
the 7th and 21st Divisions on the flanks of the salient, which were 
to have pinched it out, had carried Mametz, but just failed to link 
up behind Fricourt. The HI. Corps on our left had taken La Boisselle 
and entered Ovillers, but had been driven out again ; Montauban 
had fallen to the XHI. Corps on the right, but heavy fighting con- 
tinued. Fricourt was bombarded all night by heavy howitzers, 
and deluged with a new gas shell by a brigade of French 75's, 
which, together with an additional brigade of heavies, had been 
attached to the Corps Heavy Artillery shortly before the battle. 
When the infantry advanced next morning the village was found 
evacuated, and a party from B.E. section were able to make a 
preliminary reconnaissance for pushing forward the artillery 
routes. Our tenure of the high ground between Mametz and Mon- 
tauban was now sufficiently secured, and the roads Meaulte- 
Fricourt and Carnoy-Mametz repaired to such an extent as to 
permit the advance of the heavy batteries to positions about our 
old front line. The artillery moves having thus begun, B.E. 
section thenceforward /ound itself taxed to the limit to keep pace 
with them. There were now seven groups to keep in touch, 
including the two attached French groups. 

It was evident from the map that while the fighting for Mametz 
Wood continued, the new centre of observation would be about 
Pommiers Redoubt — the highest point of the Mametz-Montauban 
ridge — and after a hasty reconnaissance which located our ad- 
vanced line down the forward slope about Caterpillar Wood', it 
was decided to lay a few pairs of armoured cable up the old German 
trenches from the new battery positions about Carnoy and Fri- 
court. The only armoured cable to be obtained was a portion of 
that already laid in the trench between the two O.P. exchanges. 


A few signallers having been collected from the batteries, this 
heavy armoured cable was recovered from the trench, conveyed 
forward by wagon, and again laid out up to Pommiers Redoubt. 
In doing this work the effect of the appalling road and traffic 
conditions which clogged all effort throughout the Somme was 
first clearly appreciated. The XV. Corps was unfortunately placed, 
in that no main road ran forward through its front. From be- 
ginning to end of the battle, the only traffic artery was the narrow 
country by-road from Meaulte to Fricourt, and thence by Mametz 
to Montauban. 

Such transport conditions bore more hardly on signals than any 
other service. With activities spread over the whole area, a very 
limited personnel and transport, and ever-changing conditions, 
which often stultified by nightfall all the laborious effort of the 
day, the difficulty of getting parties to a given spot at a given 
time, co-ordinating the supply of materials and labour, controlling 
the working parties and switching them to meet emergencies as 
they arose, was a splendid schooling in patience, temper, and too 
often in resignation to fate. This remained the paramount factor 
in the Company's experience throughout the Somme. As an 
example, a cable wagon of B.E. section took its place in a 
melancholy queue at 7 a.m., and arrived at its working point 
near Montauban at 2 p.m., to lay a short line required urgently 
at noon, and involving about half an hour's work. The party 
returned via Carnoy in accordance with the traffic circuit, and 
encountering similar conditions, reached headquarters near Meaulte 
at 10 p.m., with horses and men exhausted. Under the same 
difficulties, 51 Air Line Section was engaged in following up the 
advance with a light open wire route up to J^ricourt, and B.G. and 
B.F. Sections were worked with the 21st Division Signals and the 
Corps Observers respectively. 

The commencement of active operations brought the work 
of the operators and the despatch riders at headquarters and with 
the heavy artillery to a point of extreme pressure, which was 
maintained with little variation throughout the following months. 
Up to two thousand telegrams, and a larger number still of D.R.L.S. 
packets, were received or despatched daily. The telephone exchanges 
at Corps and Heavy Artillery Headquarters, with over sixty and 
thirty connections respectively, worked hard day and night, hand- 
ling urgent priority calls ; but so keen and expert were the operators 


that a service was maintained equal, if not superior, to the highest 
civilian standard. The destruction of lines by hostile shelling and 
traffic was met by the skilful use of alternative routes and by the 
quickness and energy of the maintenance linemen. However, the 
incessant strain to which the operators were subjected soon began 
to affect their nerves, and before the Company was withdrawn men 
resting off duty could be heard answering imaginary calls in their 

On the loth July B.G. Section, under the command of Lieutenant 
Covernton, did a notably fine performance in laying and maintaining 
lines through the intense barrages surrounding Mametz Wood. One 
of the first Valve Amplifying Listening Sets supplied to the British 
forces for use in intercepting enemy messages, by picking up weak 
leakage or induced currents through earth or along parallel con- 
ductors, had been issued to the Company for trial. As a large num- 
ber of enemy cables ran through Mametz Wood, and some extended 
to enemy territory behind it, favourable results seemed probable. 
Lieutenant Collins took up the set, and tracing the cables into 
No Man's Land, tapped in there. Though, owing to the excellent 
discipline of the enemy in obeying the limitations prescribed for 
use of wire communication in the front line, no tactical messages 
were obtained, this officer afterwards obtained recognition of his 
courageous and enterprising efforts. 

On the 14th July another general assault secured the line along 
the ridge between Bazentin-le-Petit and Longueval. Accordingly, 
heavy batteries were moved up as far as Caterpillar Wood in the 
valley in front of Montauban, and on the 15th a party of B.E. 
section reconnoitred for lines to Bazentin-le-Petit, in which vUlage 
it was proposed to establish H.A. Headquarters. The German 
reaction had, however, already begun, and the party found the 
conditions in the village highly unsuited for a headquarters, so 
much so that a warm infantry combat was proceeding in the out- 
skirts. High Wood had to be evacuated as too advanced to 
hold, and the memorable struggle of the South African Infantry 
Brigade for Delville Wood had begun. Nevertheless, over 
a mile of ground had been gained, and the corresponding ex- 
tension of communications necessarily taxed all sections to their 
limit. The advanced headquarters of divisions moved up to 
the famous dug-outs in the chalk under the ruins of Fricourt 
Chateau, in which, thirty feet underground, with the amenities of 

(2,097) 19 


electric light, panelled walls, and artificial ventilation, the German 
Staff had dwelt during the bombardment of the village. A twenty- 
four wire heavy route was rapidly constructed by the 4th Army 
Signals from Meaulte to this point, and thence to Mametz, in 
readiness for the advance, and the wire light route built by the 
Company was extended by the Air Line Section past Fricourt, up 
Death Valley, to Mametz Wood. The next deep advance was not, 
however, to occur till two months later, as the corps front was now 
becoming a salient, and it was necessary to clear the flanks and 
broaden the base of the attack. Therefore, while the Anzac Corps 
and III. Corps on the left, and the XIII. Corps succeeded by the 
XIV. Corps on the right, hammered away round Pozieres and 
Ginchy respectively, the XV. Corps was engaged in continuous 
auxiliary attacks, and its heavy artillery co-operated largely with 
the operations of the flanking corps. 

This situation did not bring any relaxation to the Signal Com- 
pany. The German artillery, whose work behind the front line had 
been feeble immediately after the ist July, had now been heavily 
reinforced, and the salient position of the Corps inevitably drew 
much enfilade fire. One of the effects was the continuous 
destruction of lines back to points thousands of yards from the 
front. In moving up after the 14th July, all units had finally 
passed beyond the buried cables laid down for the battle. Forward 
lines were now entirely overground, and if not blown up by direct 
hits, were cut by the smallest splinters. 

As the month of July wore on the demand for additional for- 
ward communication and the strength of the hostile fire increased. 
It was obvious that no satisfactory communication could be secured 
beyond Fricourt except by burying, and Major Harrison finally 
succeeded in securing a small labour party from the Corps Cyclist 
Battalion for this purpose. It was decided to commence by bury- 
ing sixteen pairs of armoured cable from the head of the open route 
at Mametz to Pommiers Redoubt dug-outs, where there were now 
Brigade Headquarters and Divisional Report Centres. The work 
was entrusted to B.G. Section and proved difficult, not only be- 
cause of the maze of old trenches, barbed wire, and shell-holes 
through which the cable trench had to go, but also because of the 
frequent shelling of Mametz and along the ridge. On the 28th Lieu- 
tenant Covernton, while superintending this work, was badly 
wounded. Lieutenant Baker took over B.G. Section, completed 


the trench, and subsequently extended the cables to Caterpillar 
Trench. At the same time, 51 Air Line Section diverted the 
open wire route between Fricourt and Mametz, by constructing a 
substantial pole route skirting both villages, which carried eight 
pairs of twisted D 5 cables hung in slotted boards. This cable 
route was not only much less frequently shelled down — a daily 
occurrence with the open route — but could be quickly repaired, 
as the cable when cut could be re jointed and worked, even if lying 
on the ground. 

This method of substantial poled cable routes could and would 
have been used to a greater extent but for the deficiency of material. 
The consumption of cable by units in line was appalling. Artillery 
Observation Post Lines, laid overground, were badly cut about by 
shell fire, and had to be renewed every few days, and sometimes 
daily. In the case of the heavy batteries, these lines were often of 
great length, and ran to more than one O.P. For instance, the 
34th Siege Battery, sited to the left of Fricourt, had about this 
period lines out to O.P.'s at Longueval and at the windmill in 
front of Bazentin-le-Grand, a total line length of over eleven miles. 

During the comparative lull towards the end of July the shelling 
of the Fricourt area became so pronounced that, pending the next 
general attack, the headquarters of the divisions in line were 
moved back to Bellevue Farm — between Meaulte and Albert— 
and the opportunity was at once taken to transfer the Corps Ex- 
change in Fricourt into the dug-outs so vacated. The Armstrong 
hut had luckily escaped so far, but several shells had pitched within 
a few yards of it, and the operators deserved great credit for the 
way they stuck to their duties without the slightest protection 
through the periodical shellings. A new route was built by 51 Air 
Line from Bellevue Farm to link up this new position with the main 
forward route at Vivier Mill, and was calculated on a scale sufficient 
to meet requirements in the event of the headquarters of the 
Corps moving to Bellevue Farm when the advance resumed. 

Throughout the war, but particularly in this earlier period, the 
difficulties of Signals did not arise exclusively from the terrain and 
from enemy action, but to a great extent from careless and thought- 
less conduct on the part of the other arms. Much damage to lines 
was done by cross-country traffic at night, largely unavoidable but 
much also avoidable, if a better understanding of the importance 
of communication had existed in the non-technical units. When 


an infantryman found himself in reserve a few thousand yards 
behind the front Une, and lacking a piece of cord to fix up his 
bivouac, cut a few yards out of a cable which had been strung 
across the ground in his vicinity, he did not realize that the line 
so put out of action might well be the observation line of a heavy 
battery, that the damage he had done in a few seconds might take 
an over-worked lineman hours to locate and repair, and that mean- 
while the battery would be blinded and his comrades in the front 
line deprived of its instant and effective support. A typical instance 
occurred on the night of the 3rd July. The group of French 75's 
attached to Corps Heavy Artillery had moved suddenly late in 
the evening to support operations at Mametz Wood next morning. 
Communication was established through one of the buried trenches 
by 10 p.m., but an hour later this and other lines in the trench 
went full earth. At 3 a.m., after tracing the cable inch by inch 
through a dark night, and tapping in at intervals as he progressed, 
xne exhausted lineman found that a company in support had 
decided that the cable trench would make a good temporary 
cook-house, and, of course, had burnt all the twelve pairs of wires 
in the trench. To the infinite relief of the H.A. Signal Officer, this 
proved to be the only damage done, and the wires were set going 
again before dawn and in time for the operations. 

Long before the Somme Battle, the exigencies of trench warfare 
had altered the original organization of army corps. The corps 
had ceased to be a unit composed of specific divisions, and divisions 
were no longer affiliated permanently to one corps, but moved at 
frequent intervals from quiet sectors to active ones to take part 
in an offensive, and after a short period of heavy losses and ex- 
treme exertion would be again withdrawn to another quiet sector 
or a training area for rest, recruitment, and refit. Therefore, on 
a front like the Somme, a continuous stream of divisions passed 
through the corps, each taking its share of the fighting and being 
in turn relieved. As the Corps Signal Company, like the brook, 
" went on for ever," it had to fit each fresh division into the frame 
of the existing communications as they chanced to stand at the 
moment, and assist the divisional signals to pick up and utilize the 
available lines. The organization had, also, to be elastic enough 
to meet the requirements of administering anything from two to 
seven divisions simultaneously. During the Somme, nineteen 
different divisions passed through the XV. Corps, and as many of 


them went through the furnace more than once, there were alto- 
gether fifty-three divisional changes. What work this involved to 
the Corps Signal Company in the transferring of lines, the directing 
of traffic, the continuous alteration of records, and the supply of 
material can be readily imagined. 

The excellence of the work of the B.E. Section with the Heavy 
Artillery was recognized in a communication addressed to Major 
Harrison, in which the Corps commander stated that he much 
appreciated the work done by Lieutenant Ross and his party, and 
considered that the work of this section was typical of the whole 
South African Signal Company. When General Home himself 
left the Corps at a later date, to take command of the First Army, 
he had evidently seen no reason to alter his opinion of the Company, 
for in taking leave of the A.D.A.S. he congratulated him on com- 
manding a unit second to none in France. 

The operations continued to be hampered by rain at each of 
the critical phases, but by the beginning of September the flanking 
corps had made the necessary progress and everything was in 
readiness for the great attack of 15th September. The vital im- 
portance of secure communication being fully appreciated by the 
Staff, the necessary labour was made available for a considerable 
buried scheme. A buried water-pipe laid by the enemy between 
Longueval and Montauban had been located, and considerable 
effort was expended by B.F. section in investigating the possibility 
of using this pipe for running cable through. It was finally decided 
that its exploitation would not be justified in view of the small 
depth of the bury, and the extensive damage already done by shell 
fire. The first section of the new bury consisted of a six-foot-deep 
cable trench, extending from Pommiers Redoubt via the famous 
Cosy Comer, where the Carnoy and Mametz roads join outside 
Montauban, and thence to York Trench on the left of Longueval. 
This trench had nine framed test points let into the walls every 
four hundred and forty yards, and contained forty-five pairs of 
cable. The accumulation of the necessary quantities of cable 
suitable for the work presented great difiiculty, and the trench 
probably set up a record for the number of different varieties it 
contained — from nineteen pair V.LR., as thick and heavy as a 
hawser and supplied on drums weighing over half a ton each, 
to one pair G.P. Twin about as stout as a double boot-lace. 
The actual digging was done by a battalion of the 7th Division, 


the work being under the charge of Lieutenant Collins, assisted 
by Lieutenant Baker, with B.G. section and most of the sappers 
of B.E. and W.W. sections. The mud of the Somme will go down 
to history : and as the line of the trenches included some excellent 
samples of it, the distribution along the trench of the heavy cable 
drums and the pipes for crossing under tracks presented great 
difficulties. The jointing, terminating, and testing of the wires 
had to be completed against time, and with a limited number of 
expert men, as the maintenance of the widespread network for 
which the Company was responsible had absorbed many of the 
best men out of all sections. The lines were, however, ready in 
time for the divisions who had moved Headquarters up again to 
Fricourt and Pommiers Redoubt, with Advanced Headquarters at 
York Trench, and also for the Heavy Artillery, most of whose 
batteries took positions along the Mametz-Montauban ridge and 
in folds of the forward slope towards Caterpillar Wood and Longue- 
val. To cope with the steady forward drift of the Corps units, and 
to provide another advance maintenance point, a new Corps For- 
ward Exchange was established in a dug-out at Pommiers, and 
after the attack B.E. section staffed this exchange and maintained 
the area. 

The attack on 15th September proved highly successful and 
not too costly in life, a depth of over a mile being made good, in- 
cluding the villages of Courcelette, Martinpuich, and Flers. Com- 
munications held well throughout the day, and the good liaison 
between infantry and artillery so secured played an important 
part in the result. The recently introduced Power Buzzers for 
transmitting high-power buzzer signals through earth to be picked 
up by Valve Amplifying Receivers at distances up to three thousand 
yards, were used with fair success in the advance. These sets were 
controlled by the Wireless Section, but the forward stations were 
manned by signallers of the attacking battalions. The comparative 
inexperience and lack of special training of these signallers pre- 
vented the best being got out of the instruments, but the limited 
establishment of the Signal Service prevented any other procedure. 

The advance rendered a further extension of the cable trench 
urgent, but for the moment suitable cable for a permanent bury 
was not available. Another section of trench, however, was 
dug immediately in order that units might have the benefit of its 
protection in running temporary field cables forward. This section 


extended from York Trench through the corner of Delville Wood 
to Switch Trench, and the digging proved a gruesome task, as 
Delville Wood and neighbourhood was a huge graveyard. In the 
sides of the trench were visible more than one pitiful reminder that 
our heroic comrades of the Infantry Brigade had fought and died 
there. To prevent confusion and facilitate maintenance, the left- 
hand side of the new trench was assigned to divisions and the right 
to the Heavy Artillery, the Headquarters Signals of which prepared 
and erected along the trench fixtures for cables in the shape of 
angle iron high-wire entanglement pickets, each having a piece of 
two-inch by two-inch wood screwed to it with a dozen diagonal 
slots cut in it for the cable. The cutting and slotting of so many 
pieces — upwards of one thousand five hundred — was a task beyond 
hand methods, but was accomplished in three days by obtaining a 
power-band saw from a factory in Albert, and connecting it up 
with the water wheel at Vivier Mill by a belt extemporized from 
the driving bands of the cable wagon winding gears. 

During this period occurred a noteworthy performance in rapid 
repair of cable routes. The main cable trench about midnight 
received a direct hit from a large shell, severing all communication ; 
but fortunately a party of B.E. section was returning down the 
trench from forward work, and came on the shell crater soon after- 
wards. Though already worn out with a long day's work and 
struggling through the mud, they at once started to dig up the 
cable ends, sending a man to summon assistance by tapping in 
at the next test point in the trench, and succeeded in getting all 
the forty-five pairs of wires rejointed and working again in three 

Liaison lines had grown formidably in numbers. Direct lines 
were now demanded not only between Heavy Artillery Head- 
quarters and the Artillery Headquarters of all divisions in line, 
but between the divisional artilleries and the majority of the 
Heavy Artillery Groups. There had been a great development of 
the service of Observation in the shape of artillery aeroplanes, kite 
balloons, of which there were now three sections attached to the 
Corps and Observation Groups of the R.E. Survey battalion. 
Whenever possible lines were now required from these units, not 
only to the artillery groups, but to the batteries specially assigned 
for counter-battery work. To co-ordinate and render fully effective 
this work of the systematic location and destruction or neutraliza- 


tion of hostile batteries, a special staff, commanded by a colonel, 
had been added to the H.A. Headquarters, and this staff, in its 
turn, required additional direct lines and communication facilities 
to enable it to function promptly and effectively. 

The evil luck that, except in the initial push, caused every 
successful attack to be followed by broken weather, still held good 
and hampered all preparations for the assault on the next entrenched 
line ; but by herculean efforts the necessary organization for 
another general attack on the 25th September was completed. 
Road conditions up to a certain point forward were now beginning 
to improve under the triple influences of the introduction of Decau- 
ville tramways for the conveying of the heavy ammunition in the 
forward area, the extension of broad-gauge ammunition railheads 
to Fricourt and Caterpillar Wood, and the removal of water lorries 
from the roads by the completion of a vast system of pipe lines 
extending back to the Ancre and the Somme through which the 
river water was pumped after treatment in chlorinating plants. 

On the 25th the intermediate German line, including Morval, 
Lesbceufs, and Gueudecourt, succumbed, and the Corps front again 
advanced over a mile. On the 26th the victory was completed by 
the Fifth Army's capture of Thiepval, and once again the roseate 
prospect of a great victory and of reaching Bapaume before winter 
cheered the tired troops, and kept the Signal Company's hands 
full with preparations for forward moves of all headquarters. 
The weather, however, intervened on the side of the Germans, and 
breaking decisively on the 26th, remained miserably cold and wet 
thenceforward, and largely stultified the heroic efforts repeatedly 
made throughout October. 

During this period, the heavy batteries of some of the H.A. 
Group Headquarters moved up to and in front of Longueval, 
necessitating the running of many new cable lines. Permanent 
cable was laid in the second section of the main cable trench up 
to Longueval, and a third section of trench was dug forwards to 
the sugar works at Factory Corner in front of Flers. An experi- 
mental trench was started near Longueval, with a trench excavator 
loaned by the French, which was, in effect, a small land dredge 
mounted on a motor lorry chassis and driven by its engine. This 
machine could excavate a cable trench eighteen inches wide and 
up to seven feet deep in ordinary soil with ease, but it was im- 
mobile on the terrain of the Somme, and could not be manoeuvred 


except with the assistance of an artillery caterpillar tractor. Con- 
sequent on this trial improved machines were ordered from America 
for next year's campaign, but the Corps Signal Company did not 
have the opportunity of using them. 

At the end of October the Anzac Corps, under General Bird- 
wood, relieved the XV. Corps commanded by Sir John Ducane 
since the departure of General Home. As there was then no other 
Corps Signal Company in France formed from Colonial troops, 
it appeared possible that the Company would be retained in line 
with the Anzacs. It is no disparagement of the spirit of the men 
to state that every one heaved a sigh of relief when it became known 
that ** K " Corps Signal Company was to take over. In truth, 
nearly all were bone-weary and temporarily played out, and every 
section badly needed a spell out of the line to reorganize and refit. 
There had been no leave granted in the line, and those with ties 
in England eagerly anticipated its reopening. 

In view of the extensive system to be taken over, the relief by 
" K" Corps Signal Company was conducted gradually, and B.E., 
the last section to leave the line, did not reach the new head- 
quarters at Long until the middle of November. Long proved to 
be a tiny old-world village on the left bank of the Somme a few 
miles upstream from Abbeville. A liberal allotment of leave 
permits was soon issued, and a batch of men were sent off daily, 
while the less fortunate ones overhauled, cleaned, and repaired 
equipment, improved billets and horse standings, and carried out 
the signal work still required. For Signal Companies in the field 
there is no such thing as " complete rest," even in the rest area. 

On Major Harrison's promotion. Captain Dingwall now assumed 
the executive control of the Company, but scarcely had the sections 
completed their refit, when orders were suddenly received for the 
Corps to take over a portion of the French front in the Peronne 
sector, with the 4th, 8th, 33rd, and 40th Divisions then in rest. 


The move into line commenced on the 3rd December, and was 
completed on the 6th. The cable sections, so depleted by the 
large numbers on leave that they were unable to fill the saddles of 


the mounted men, moved with the Divisional Signal Companies, 
and were directed — ^B.E. and B.G. on Bray, and B.F. on Mari- 

Headquarters and the air line section joined the Corps Head- 
quarters at Etinehem, a village on the right bank of the Somme, a 
mile or so west of Bray. In their weakened condition all sections 
had a most strenuous time taking over communications as released 
by the French, testing the routes out, reorganizing the lines and 
connecting up units as they arrived. The Corps front extended 
from the XIV. Corps boundary on the north at Combles, previously 
the extreme right of the British line, to near Bouchavesnes, and 
ran in front of St. Pierre Vaast Wood, where the most desperate 
French attacks in the autumn had, like our own in the north, been 
stifled in the mud. The terrain as a whole was of similar nature 
and condition to that in the Longueval sector, but the roads were 
better, Decauville tramways existed, and best of all, from a signal 
point of view, a very fair network of deep cable trenches had been 
dug in the forward area. Though the cable used in these " buries " 
— mainly one pair lead covered with impregnated paper insulation — 
proved unreliable in insulation, and much trouble was caused and 
many circuits lost thereby, yet the "buries" proved very useful, 
and, supplemented by the construction system of several new open 
routes in rear, enabled a communication system to be rapidly 
completed, sufficient for the needs of the defensive winter cam- 
paign. Corps forward exchanges were established with the Heavy 
Artillery Headquarters in excellent French dug-outs at Bois Louage 
in front of Maurepas, as at Maricourt, in charge of B.F. section, and 
with B.G. section at Bray, where the horse lines of all cable sections 
were shortly concentrated. The sappers of B.E. section remained 
with H.A. Headquarters under Lieutenant Collins, who replaced 
Captain Ross as H.A. Signal Officer, while the latter did duty at 
Headquarters during the successive sick leaves of Lieutenant- 
Colonel Harrison and Captain Dingwall. 

Etinehem proved a most miserable headquarters. The village 
was much overcrowded, and the billets so wretched that some of 
them did not even afford an adequate shelter from the weather of 
the most severe winter known in France for over twenty years. 
The only redeeming feature of the place was that its situation on 
the river enabled the many tons of heavy signal stores now in the 
Company's possession to be brought up the Somme from Long by 


barge, so releasing the lorries for urgent construction work. The 
pressure of duty on the limited numbers of men available, as well 
as the shortage of material, fuel, and of daylight, made it difficult 
for some time to improve conditions. Authority for additional 
blankets and for the issue of waterproof clothing to the linemen 
was obtained, but the poor conditions, the severity of the weather, 
and the lowered vitality, due to the lack of a sufficient recuperative 
period after the summer campaign, resulted in a heavy and in- 
creasing sick list, reaching forty daily, and the evacuation of 
considerable numbers to hospital with pulmonary complaints. 
This state of affairs, coupled with difficulties experienced in ob- 
taining reinforcements, kept the Company much below normal 
strength for several months. 

During December it was understood that the French con- 
templated launching an attack against Mont St. Quentin and 
Peronne, and to this end they retained a frontage on both banks 
of the Somme. However, early in January 1917 the project was 
abandoned, and orders were received for the XV. Corps to extend 
its front to the right, taking over to the river by Clery, and simul- 
taneously handing over a divisional frontage on the left to the 
XIV. Corps. The divisional sectors were taken over successively, 
and the move completed by the 22nd January without interference 
by the enemy, the Headquarters of divisions in line being estab- 
lished at P.C. Chapeau and P.C. Jean, ex-French divisional com- 
mand posts judiciously and inconspicuously sited under the high 
bank running parallel to the Somme bank. H.A. Headquarters 
with B.E. section moved also to P.C. Chapeau, and the Corps 
Forward Exchange at Maricourt was transferred with B.F. section 
to Suzanne. This change of frontage was a nasty jar to the Com- 
pany, as nearly all the new routes, on which the sections had toiled 
early and late to complete the communication scheme for the 
winter, were now outside the Corps area, and the same work had 
to be started afresh in the bitter frosts of January. The weather, 
that had been vilely cold and wet from the beginning of December, 
now turned to snow and hard frost. The latter penetrated the ground 
to such an extent that by the end of the month all digging became 
impossible, and work on a buried cable trench between Ouvrages 
and Oursel, to provide forward communications for the 33rd 
Division, had to be suspended. The ex-French bury forward of 
P.C. Jean proved very faulty, and a section of twelve pair open- 


wire heavy route was put in hand early in February, running for- 
ward to Monac, partly to supplement the bury and partly to carry 
forward the head of the main route in anticipation of the advance 
next spring. The ground was found to be frozen as hard as con- 
crete to a foot from the surface, and after ineffectual struggles 
with picks and crowbars, excavations for the pole holes were 
finally blasted with gun-cotton. As the forward end of this route 
came under direct observation, the last few hundred yards were 
run in cables hung on short stakes, each cable from a small bobbin 
insulator nailed to the side of the stake. This method was copied 
from the French, who had used it extensively in the area, and 
proved very satisfactory in this instance. 

In the meantime, aeroplane night-bombing and the shelling 
of back areas by long range guns, initiated in the latter stages 
of the Somme Battle, had developed to an unpleasant extent. 
Rarely did a day pass without some main route suffering from one 
or other of these agencies, and the consequent necessity for divert- 
ing the limited working parties from urgent construction to still 
more urgent repairs. The railheads of Maricourt and Bray were 
favourite targets, and again and again the unfortunate sappers 
were turned out of their blankets to stumble along a route in the 
pitch black night, and then struggle for hours with numbed fingers 
to evolve order out of a chaos of tangled wire and broken poles. 

This hostile aeroplane activity caused a rapid increase of anti- 
aircraft units. Batteries and searchlights were now dotted over 
the area, and the installation and maintenance of a separate and 
complete system of communication for the Anti-Aircraft Defence 
of the Corps area was now added to the Company's duties, and 
the H.A. Signal Officer found himself occupied with communica- 
tions for the Survey Groups and the installation of lines to their 
O.P.'s, and to the Microphone positions of the Sound Ranging 
Section now added to the H.A. Counter Battery organization. 

Though the duties of the H.A. Signal Officer were somewhat 
reduced by the appointment, in January, of a R.E. Signal Officer 
to each H.A. Group, the commencement by the enemy of systematic 
counter battery work, in imitation of the British methods initiated 
in the previous year, made it more than ever difficult to keep the 
forward lines in continuous operation. A scheme for the forward 
extension of the buried system, till recently used by the French, 
was prepared under the greatest transport difficulties, the drums 


having to be man-handled about half a mile across country by 
night, and a portion of the material was got up to Marridres Wood, 
next year the scene of the South African Brigade's fine stand in 
the March retreat. But the deep crust of frozen ground prevented 
digging, and the important local attack of the 8th Division on 
the 4th March on Fritz Trench above Bouchavesnes had to be 
carried through without the assistance of the new buried communica- 
tion, and as most of the above-ground cables were cut, the first news 
of the assaulting troops was brought by pigeon to the Corps Loft 
at Etinehem. The attack was fully successful, and the effective 
use made by the artillery of the excellent observation secured 
by it, no doubt expedited the general retirement of the enemy 
in this sector. 

A few days later symptoms of this retreat became obvious in 
the shape of villages burning and large transport movements in 
the enemy back area. The general withdrawal began on the 15th 
March, the enemy falling back on the Corps front across the Canal 
du Nord. As the Fourth Army was not destined to play a part 
in the spring offensive, it had been heavily depleted both to swell 
the concentration northwards in preparation for the coming Arras 
battle, and to take over additional ground from the French, the 
sector on the XV. Corps right south of the Somme having been 
occupied by the III. Corps during February. Apart, therefore, 
from the tremendous transport difficulties due to continuous wet 
weather succeeding the frost, and the methodical destruction of 
bridges, roads, and railways, there was not sufficient strength to 
press the enemy closely, but the advance was conducted methodi- 
cally, touch with the enemy rearguards on the Corps front being 
maintained by the Wiltshire Yeomanry and the Corps Cyclist 
Battalion until a Cavalry Division could come up. 

The Signal Company's share in the work was first to maintain 
direct touch between the Corps Staff and the advanced troops, for 
which purpose D.R.'s were attached to the cavalry, but by a 
special effort of B.E. section direct telephone communication was 
soon secured and maintained. Secondly, the main communication 
network had to be extended forward at the same rate as the 
advance, and, as a counter-attack was very possible, the full 
organization for position warfare accompanied the Corps. The 
Signal difiiculties were doubled on the 25th March, by the sudden 
withdrawal from line of the XIV. Corps on the right and the con- 


sequent extension of the already wide Corps frontage which then 
stretched from Peronne to Le Transloy. 

The Imperial Signal Sections attached for assistance at intervals 
during the winter had been withdrawn, and, worst of all, the needs 
of the fighting fronts northwards entirely shut off for a time the 
supply of line construction material. Consequently, before a 
single pole or wire could be erected, it had to be released from 
service in rear, salvaged, and transported forward by the company's 
lorries over extremely bad and congested roads. Much heavy 
material had again to be relayed forward over tracks impassable 
to lorries by teams from the cable sections, and finally carried 
on the sappers' shoulders over shell-shattered ground impassable 
even for wagons. Under such handicaps, and in the teeth of con- 
tinuous blizzards of snow, sleet, and rain, which continued till the 
end of April, over forty miles of poled route, including much of a 
heavy permanent nature carrying twenty-four wires, was erected, 
and two successive moves of the Headquarters of Corps and all 
subordinate formations accomplished without any loss of com- 
munication. The skill, endurance, and ready zeal of the A.S.C. 
Motor Transport drivers attached to the Company played a great 
part in the results achieved. They had never failed to meet the 
severe calls made upon them from time to time during the Somme 
fighting, but now both the distances and the masses of material 
to be moved were greater, and the road conditions but little, if 
any, better. 

Early in April the advance reached its limit, and was definitely 
held up in front of La Vacquerie and Havrincourt — outlying strong 
points of the Hindenburg Line. On the 17th, Corps Headquarters 
was established in hutments and tents near Haute-AUaines, after 
a short interval at P.C. Chapeau. Then the weather at last broke, 
and with a genial spring sun overhead, a rapidly drying country 
underfoot, and good news coming through from the Arras front, life 
under canvas, even in this devastated zone, became pleasant. 

Little relaxation of effort was possible however. The Germans 
on their retreat had accomplished as thorough work in the de- 
molition of signal communications as in their wanton spoliation 
of civilian property. As every house and every fruit tree was 
destroyed, so was every pole sawn through when not bodily removed. 
Scarcely a yard of usable line — cables or open wire — existed in 
the new area, and the whole of the immense network of com- 


munications for stationary warfare had to be reconstituted 
under continuing supply and transport difficulties, while the 
hasty work done in the advance had to be overhauled and made 

Scarcely was this task well under way when orders were received 
to prepare signal plans for an offensive and commence the necessary 
works as early as possible. The position in regard to materials was 
alleviated in May by the organization of a temporary Corps Signal 
Salvage Unit, composed of B.F. section, a platoon of a Labour 
Company, and the necessary horse and motor Transport under 
Lieutenant Jack. This made it possible to push forward work on 
two heavy open-wire routes, running from Corps Headquarters, 
through Nurlu and Fins, and through Seve Wood, Lieramont, and 
Heudicourt respectively, with the necessary spur and lateral 
routes. To economize cable, which remained very short in supply, 
the subsidiary routes were run as far as possible in light iron wire 
(60 lb. to the mile), on air line or light hop poles, and considerable 
use was made of a light type of French cable with all copper con- 
ductors salvaged in the back area. This use of low resistance 
conductors, and the maintaining of good line conditions, made 
clear speech possible between O.P.'s and H.A. Headquarters, 
and on special occasions Corps Headquarters, a point of great 
value in securing rapid and effective counter-battery work. Up 
to this time all the British field cables, except D5 — too heavy 
and too scarce for ordinary forward use — had steel conductors, 
and were, therefore, of high resistance, and good speech could only 
be obtained on short lines. Plans were also elaborated for a 
buried cable scheme covering the area between the front line and 
heads of open wire behind Gouzeaucourt and Gonnelieu respectively. 
The permanent routes had progressed beyond Fins and Heudicourt, 
when, towards the end of May, orders arrived for the XV. Corps 
to hand over to the HI. Corps and proceed to Villers-Bretonneux. 
The cable sections of the Company joined various divisions, and, 
at the end of May, accompanied them out of the area to unknown 

The remainder of the Company reached Villers-Bretonneux 
on the 3rd June, and settled down very comfortably in this pleasant 
Httle town, destined to be the storm centre of the fighting for Amiens 
next spring. A small allotment of leave was obtained, making 
it possible to send away some of the men who had now been fifteen 


months continuously in the field. The usual refitting proceeded, 
and opportunity was taken to complete the reorganization neces- 
sitated by certain changes in signal establishments that had 
recently taken effect, and by the increasing numbers of valuable 
and experienced N.C.O.'s and men who left to take up Imperial 
commissions in the various branches of the service. The numbers 
so lost to the Company constituted a striking testimony to the high 
quahty of its personnel, and aggregated over eighty before hostilities 

The great and continuing growth in the demands on the Signal 
Service, particularly in connection with the Heavy Artillery, had 
for long unduly taxed the available personnel, and increase in 
establishments was overdue. To the Corps Signal Company was, 
therefore, now added a Heavy Artillery Headquarters Signal 
Section, with a strength of one officer and thirty-seven other ranks. 
The personnel for this section was obtained from drafts built up 
on a nucleus of experienced men, mainly from R.E. section. 
At the same time, a signal sub-section of one officer and twenty- 
seven other ranks was formed for each H.A. Group, but as H.A. 
Groups were frequently moved from Corps to Corps, these sub- 
sections were organized from Imperial R.E. personnel. The Com- 
pany Headquarters Section was also strengthened by the with- 
drawal of four telegraphists from each cable section, the vacancies 
being filled with additional pioneers. The Signal Section forming 
part of the Headquarters of S.A. Infantry Brigade was now 
affiliated to the Company, and thenceforward drew its reinforce- 
ments therefrom. This Section was originally formed by Lieu- 
tenant F. W. S. Burton of the Union Post Office and the 3rd Regi- 
ment from signallers selected from the infantry battalions. As, 
however, the Brigade only chanced to serve for two short periods 
in the same formation as the Signal Company, the story of this 
Signal Section is that of the Brigade and need not be separately 

The signal instruction for infantry and artillery units, com- 
menced at Long, and so abruptly suspended by the move into line, 
had during the spring become a permanent feature of the Company's 
activities. Classes in Carrier Pigeon work had been immediately 
resumed at Etinehem, and were thenceforward carried on till the 
end of the war under Lieutenant Egleton and Corporal Jorgen- 
son. with the most valuable results. In the middle of March the 


Corps Signal School was reconstituted at Chipilly, with a separate 
establishment, and Lieutenant Johnson was seconded as Com- 
mandant with a staff of four Sergeant-Instructors from the Com- 
pany. The School then constituted continued to function till 
after the Armistice, moving with the Corps from point to point, 
and many hundreds of officers and men passed through the six 
weeks' courses held at it with a most marked and beneficial effect 
to the efficiency of Signal work among the fighting troops. Lieu- 
tenant Johnson's vacancy was filled by the promotion of C.Q.M.S. 
C. H. Ison, whose untiring energy had done much to help the Com- 
pany through its difficulties in the past year. 

The interlude at Villers was abruptly cut short by orders to 
move on the loth June for a secret destination. As there were no 
cable sections to accompany, all personnel travelled in lorries, 
and the move was accomplished in two days. The secret was 
extremely well kept, however, and not until the convoy actually 
entered Dunkirk on the nth was it realized that the Corps was 
to take over the Nieuport Sector — the important bit of line running 
from the sea along the Yser, which had been held by the French 
since the momentous days of the first battle of Ypres. Corps 
Headquarters were established on the nth in the Casino of Malo-les- 
Bains, a suburb of Dunkirk, and arrangements for the relief of the 
36th French Corps at once put in hand. 


Though this sector had been for a long period a quiet one, the 

German artillery concentration opposite it was already great, 

especially in heavy long range guns, partly because the arc 

of many of their coast defence batteries covered more or less of the 

land front, and for the most part were already behind concrete 

emplacements. Normal trenches in this terrain were impossible, 

and both sides stood behind breastworks that in the dunes were 

merely gabions filled with sand ; but here, as on the Ypres front, 

the liberal use of concrete by the enemy had given his front-line 

troops, as well as his batteries and command posts, the protection 

of many " pill-boxes " and concrete shelters of various forms. For 

a long period the French had held the sector comparatively lightly ; 
(2,097) '^ ao 


consequently the whole of the titanic task of mounting a trench 
warfare offensive fell on the incoming corps. On such terrain 
the preparations presented extreme and unique difficulties, and 
those of Signals were enhanced by the fact that not only did the 
nature of the ground forbid deep cable buries, but very few shallow 
ones existed ; while the existing communications — naturally inade- 
quate — ^were almost entirely open wire to within four thousand 
yards of the front line, and sited along roads certain to be heavily 

British divisions began to arrive in the area on the 15th, bring- 
ing the absent cable sections of the Company with them, and 
between the 20th and 23rd the French divisions in line were re- 
lieved by the ist and 32nd Divisions. Thereafter the Corps Heavy 
Artillery commenced to move in, the H.A. Signal Section and B.E. 
Section proceeding to the late French Heavy Artillery Head- 
quarters, D.C.A.L. to a small copse about two miles south of 
Nieuport, and B.G. Section to Coxyde to prepare for the establish- 
ment of a forward exchange. 

After a rapid survey of the area, a communication scheme 
to meet the needs of Corps, Divisions, and the Heavy Artillery 
on a hitherto unprecedented scale was prepared. Meanwhile the 
various sections toiled at the familiar task of connecting up the 
units that were streaming into the area daily, and preparing the 
new Corps Headquarters at Bray-Dunes Plage — a small watering- 
place south of La Panne. The H.A. Section had, even with the 
assistance of B.E. Section, a particularly strenuous task in coping 
with the concentration of eleven groups of " heavies," and found 
it necessary to endeavour to bring into use at once the incomplete 
French buries. By an evil stroke of luck, the material ordered 
for this purpose was delayed over a fortnight by the truck con- 
taining it being railed to Peronne instead of Dunkirk, owing to the 
extreme secrecy that enshrouded the movements of the Corps. 

The movement of Corps Headquarters to Bray-Dunes was 
effected on the 29th June, having been somewhat expedited by one 
of the periodical shellings of Dunkirk by a German long range gun. 
On the morning of the 27th a twelve-inch shell dropped on the 
Corps Offices in the Casino at Malo, and inflicted a number of 
casualties — luckily for the Company, it just missed the Signal 
Office. A few days later the Heavy Artillery Quarters moved 
back to the village of Oost Dunkirk, about six thousand yards from 



the line, and occupied the Villa Rosarie. During the first week in 
July a considerable increase in hostile shelling was noted, but 
not to an alarming extent, though a direct hit on the H.A. sections' 
store rooms put a few telephones hors de combat r and no im- 
mediate operations were anticipated. 

The enemy, however, had decided to nip our attack in the bud 
by taking the initiative himself, and had only delayed to complete 
a crushing artillery concentration. Thus about 9.30 a.m. on the 
loth July, when many batteries were not yet in position and many 
others not yet ready for action, an intense bombardment dropped 
over the whole Corps area up to nine thousand yards behind the 
front line. With the most admirable accuracy and thoroughness, 
every village and battery position was searched, and every road of 
approach swept by heavy shell fire. Forward communications failed 
almost at once, the bridges across the Yser below Nieuport were 
destroyed, the breastwork trenches melted away before the storm 
of high explosive, and when the infantry assault was delivered 
about 7 p.m. few survivors of the Brigade of the ist Division that 
held the trenches across the Yser in front of Nieuport Bain, remained 
to resist, and the German front line was established on the Yser 
bank in this sector. On the other flank, at Lombartzyde, the 
32nd Division managed by desperate fighting to retain most of 
the ground in front of Nieuport, but the main German object was 
achieved ; the approaches to the bridgehead were now limited 
to the single entry of Nieuport, and the bridgehead itself was so 
reduced in area as to make a serious attack in force a very desperate 

This day was naturally a most trying one for the Signal per- 
sonnel. Nearly all wire communication was lost in the first two 
hours, and all formations from Corps downwards had to fall back 
on despatch riders and runners. Very fine work was done by the 
Company's despatch runners on the shell-swept roads, while the 
sections strove to patch up and keep going the vital command 
lines. Thanks to cool and quick repair work by the sappers, and 
to the use of a short piece of cable trench completed on the previous 
day, touch was kept with most of the Heavy Artillery Groups 
continually throughout the day. The observation lines could 
not, however, be kept going, and thus the batteries not put out of 
action were blinded, and could not effectively support the infantry 
across the river. Oost Dunkirk village suffered heavily, and after 


nightfall the H.A. Staff were forced to move into the sand dunes 
half a mile to the flank, when temporary cables were run back to 
the signal office at the Villa Rosarie, which enjoyed protection 
in a sand-bagged shelter behind the house. As tlxis slxelter was 
the only place in the village enjoying any degree of protection, it 
became during that day and night a temporary aid post for wounded 
and a refuge for the few remaining villagers. Amid these con- 
ditions, and deafened by the crashing explosions of the shells among 
the houses, the telephonists managed to carry on with wonderful 
efficiency for twenty-four consecutive hours. Conditions at 
Coxyde Signal Office with B.G. section were very similar. 

Much to the general surprise, the attack was not resumed on 
the following day, and while every nerve was strained to get the 
existing lines restored, work on the new communications began 
and was pressed forward night and day. The buried scheme 
originally planned provided for four forward trenches, one along 
the sea coast, one through the dunes, one partly French and already 
dug through the polder area, and one consisting of cable laid in 
the bed of the Nieuport Canal — all to be connected by a lateral 
trench running through H.A. Headquarters, which was to become 
the chief maintenance and test point. Lieutenant Collins with 
B.E. section and a rapidly increasing number of Imperial sections, 
loaned from Army Signals, was entrusted with this work, assisted 
by Lieutenant Dobson. In view of the experiences of the loth, 
two additional trenches were added to the plan, one from a main 
open route junction point behind Coxyde, forward along the fringe 
of the dunes to H.A. Headquarters, and the other along the sea- 
beach above highwater mark from Corps Headquarters at Bray- 
Dunes to the same point. 

This latter trench, which contained twenty-five pair dry core 
cable, was completed by Lieutenant Hill with skilled cable jointers 
from 51 Air Line. Labour was made freely available by the 
Corps Staff, and as material now came forward rapidly, up to two 
thousand men a day were employed on these works. The forward 
portion of the scheme presented great difficulty, as the area was now 
so sown with batteries that it was almost impossible to trace the 
trenches so as to avoid battery positions and the shelling which 
they attracted. The greater part of the work could only be done 
by night because of enemy observation ; and, further, time did not 
admit of the usual detailed preparation for the working parties. 


Nevertheless, all works were completed for the attack ; and taking 
into account the continuous heavy shelling, with light casualties. 

The experiment made on the Somme of using a kite balloon to 
maintain communication with the front line, was now repeated ; 
and as a separate balloon was now placed at the disposal of 
Second-Lieutenant Wilson and a visual signalling party, the result 
was satisfactory. 

Though all other preparations were well advanced, including the 
seclusion of the ist Division in a " hush " camp on the coast, where 
they were specially rehearsed in landing operations from the sea, 
the attack was postponed from date to date, until it finally became 
evident by the transfer of a large proportion of the heavy batteries 
to the Ypres front, that the slow progress made there owing to 
weather and " pill-boxes " was likely to postpone the Nieuport 
offensive indefinitely. 

During the interval, the rival artilleries waged a furious and con- 
tinuous duel. The forward buried system, unavoidably shallow 
from the nature of the ground, was continuously broken by shell 
fire. During September the cable trenches were blown up by direct 
hits on the average nearly twice a day. The repairs were most 
difficult and laborious owing both to the persistent shelling and the 
rise of the water level everywhere after the wet weather of August. 
Even with the sappers of three cable sections — ^B.F., B.E., and A.U. 
Imperial Cable Section, and two area Signal Detachments from the 
Fourth Army, it became impossible to keep going satisfactorily the 
network of forty miles of trenches containing 1,200 miles of cable ; 
and finally the assistance of the Corps Cyclist Battalion was ob- 
tained to dig diversion trenches in the worst shell areas, and a new 
trench in the Belgian area in substitution of the cable laid in the 
Nieuport Canal, the insulation of which began to fail soon after 

During this period the sappers stationed at the forward test 
points had a most trying experience. Owing to the frequent 
breakdowns, they were perpetually working on the cable trenches 
by day and by night, employed in testing and substituting lines. 
The frequent use of gas shell made it necessary that at their isolated 
points they should secure the gas blankets of their dug-out entrances 
at night, and this inevitably produced an atmosphere little inferior 
to the gas itself. Two concreted test points in the " polder " area, 
taken over from the French, were conspicuous after shelling had 


destroyed all arboreal cover. The Germans apparently decided 
that these were gun positions, and favoured them with special atten- 
tion, managing finally to secure three direct hits — ^two innocuous, 
however unnerving to the inmates ; but the third on P.C. 6 burst 
square on the roof, and though only slightly bending the steel 
rails embedded in the concrete, killed a sapper of B.F. section inside. 
One small dug-out on the canal bank, P.C. i8, disappeared alto- 
gether after an eleven-inch howitzer bombardment of a neighbouring 
battery, but fortunately there was no occupant at the time. 

Corps Headquarters moved to La Panne at the beginning of 
September ; but the location had evidently been given away by 
a spy, as it was heavily shelled by a long range gun a fortnight later, 
and consequently retransferred to Bray-Dunes. Though as the 
autumn drew on activity in the sector died down, all ranks had 
reason to welcome the relief of the Corps by the XXXVI. French 
Corps that commenced on the 19th November. On the 20th the 
Headquarters of the Company, under Captain Dingwall, who had 
been acting as A.W. Signals since September during Lieutenant- 
Colonel Harrison's absence on sick leave, moved to Hinges near 
B6thune, and commenced to take over from the XL Corps — then 
under orders for Italy — a. sector between Bethune and Armentieres. 


After some readjustments of frontage in December, the XV. 
Corps settled down to hold the sector in front of the Lys, from 
Houplines to Laventie, with the Portuguese Corps on the right and 
the Anzac Corps on the left. In January 1918 Corps Headquarters 
were shifted from Hinges to La Motte-aux-Bois in front of the Forest 
of Nieppe, and Heavy Artillery, with the H.A. and B.E. sections, 
to Estaires, where 51 Air Line was already established. A further 
reorganization of the Company now took place. As cable sections 
rarely, if ever, performed the mobile work for which their horse 
transport was provided, the decision was reached to disband one 
cable section in each Corps, to reduce the strength of the Corps 
air line section to forty-two all ranks with one heavy and two light 
lorries, and with the surplus personnel so accruing form an additional 
air line for each Corps. B.G. section was, accordingly, converted 
into the nucleus of the new 91 Air Line Section, to which Lieutenant 


Dobson was appointed. At the same time, " Q " Wireless Section 
became an integral portion of the Signal Company, and was taken 
over by Lieutenant Mc Arthur, with 2nd Lieutenant Fitzgeorge as 
second officer, the Imperial personnel being rapidly replaced by 
South Africans. A second officer was also authorized for the Heavy 
Artillery Section, and Lieutenant M. Cohen, who had been attached 
to a brigade of the 8th Division since his arrival from England 
in November 1917, was appointed. 

The communications here were such as would serve on a thinly 
held and lightly shelled front. Buries were few and becoming in- 
efficient with age ; the light open-wire routes which formed the bulk 
of the communication were run close up to the front line. The 
defection of Russia made it certain that the Allies would be thrown 
on the defensive in the spring ; and as the Lys covered Hazebrouck 
and the direct route to Calais, it was probable that the sector would 
become a main front of attack. Ample and secure communications 
were, therefore, a first necessity, and a complete scheme was pre- 
pared on a scale of magnitude and thoroughness which surpassed 
any previous performance. All trenches were to be seven feet 
deep and carry no less than thirty pairs of wires. 

Work could not be commenced before the 25th January, owing to 
the whole Lys Valley, which is very low lying, becoming water- 
logged by heavy rain. At first the labour available was very limited, 
owing to the urgent demands for defence works in the battle zone, 
and for the construction and wiring of a new emergency line of 
five trenches on the north bank of the river. Early in February 
the labour position improved, and frequently over one thousand 
five hundred men were employed simultaneously. The sappers had 
a strenuous time, and, but for the assistance of a party from the 
Corps Cyclists, who by long association with Signals had become 
relatively skilled, could not have kept up the pace. By unremitting 
effort the Corps Section of the trenches was completed by the begin- 
ning of March, and a portion of the work originally assigned to divi- 
sions taken over. 

While the other sections were so engaged, B.F. was employed 
on another section of the scheme in and around Armentieres itself. 
In this town a considerable underground sewer system existed, 
and though not comparable with the underways of Arras, yet these 
sewers proved extremely valuable as affording ready-made covered 
ways for cable. B.F. accordingly spent two months in laying 


securely many miles of cable. The new 91 Air Line Section mean- 
while pushed on the necessary additions to the open -wire routes 
forward from Corps Headquarters. Hostile artillery activity began 
to increase considerably in March, and about the middle of the 
month became so marked that from this and other symptoms an 
immediate attack was expected. This cut off the supply of labour, 
but the sappers were busier than ever in bringing the cables already 
laid into use by temporary joints, without waiting for the construc- 
tion of the test dug-outs. 

This alarm proved for the time false, the offensive commencing 
instead on the Third and Fifth Army fronts on the 21st March. 
The immediate effect was the withdrawal of all the divisions in 
the Corps, and their replacement with exhausted divisions from 
the south — ^the 34th and 40th — who naturally could provide no 
labour. The greatest anxiety was now felt lest the communica- 
tion should not be finished in time, and work was rushed day and 
night. With the assistance of the Corps Cyclists temporary sand- 
bagged test points were erected where the concrete work was 
stUl lacking, and when the storm finally broke on the 9th April 
practically all cable laid had been joined up and was working, and 
three-quarters of the original scheme had been completed. 

The attack began at 4.30 a.m. with an intense bombardment 
extending back to and beyond the river, followed by an infantry 
assault about 7 a.m., which immediately broke through the Portu- 
guese on the Corps right. There were no reserves available to 
man effectively the new line dug on the northern bank, and during 
the afternoon the enemy crossed at Bac St. Maur, and by 7 p.m. 
had forced our firing line back behind the signal test point at 
Croix de Bac. Communications had held well so far; the 34th 
Division was still maintaining its ground on the left round Armen- 
tieres, and there was hope of an immediate restoration of the 
situation by counter-attack. The lineman at this point — Corporal 
Shepherd of the H.A. section — was, therefore, instructed not to 
destroy the lines, but to leave them all through, and fall back on 
the next test point. He did so, but omitted to put through one 
of the lines. On ascertaining this when he reached H.A. head- 
quarters, he voluntarily returned and managed to re-enter the dug- 
out, which was now in No Man's Land, and put the line through. 
Though this dug-out passed into the enemy's hands during the 
night, and after a temporary reversal of fortune again next morn- 


ing, direct communication from Corps headquarters to troops in 
Armentieres was maintained over the cables passing through it 
till afternoon on the following day, when the evacuation of the 
town began. 

By next morning the Germans had forced the river to Estaires. 
This town had been intensely shelled all day, and B.E. Section 
billet was blown up early in the morning. Nevertheless, the Corps 
Exchange was kept going till a late hour that night by Lieutenant 
Hill with 51 Air Line and a party of operators from the Head- 
quarters section. 

During the following days, the loth, nth, and 12th, the Corps 
was steadily driven back by the heavy thrust made by the enemy 
for Hazebrouck. The 29th and 31st Divisions and the 4th Guards 
Brigade were successively thrown in, but their desperate fighting 
only succeeded in slowing the German advance, until the entry 
into line of the ist Australian Division on the night of the 12th, 
when the enemy was finally brought to a stop on the edge of the 
Nieppe Forest. Thereafter the storm centre shifted gradually to 
the northward round Kemmel and Messines, while on the Corps 
front the battle died down to local combats. 

The effort to keep up communications during these days tested 
every one to the limit. Units were changing location like figures 
in a kaleidoscope, and nearly the whole of the existing system of 
lines had passed into the enemy's hands. However, by the most 
strenuous efforts, touch was maintained throughout the retreat, 
and the good work done was recognized by the Corps commander ; 
for in a letter addressed to Colonel Harrison, he conveyed his 
appreciation of the work carried out by all ranks of the Company 
during the recent operations. He added that he realized that, 
owing to the untiring energy and devotion to duty shown by all 
ranks, a very high standard of communication was maintained, 
and thanked all for the efforts made and the results achieved. 
The general commanding the Heavy Artillery also made reference 
in a special order of the day to the particularly good work done 
by the H.A. Signal Section, under Lieutenant Collins, in the fol- 
lowing words : — 

** That the Heavy Artillery was able to cover the whole Corps 
front with its fire during each day, and to withdraw to 
fresh positions each night, testifies also to the excellence 


of the staff work — especially in connection with tele- 
phonic communication." 

On the nth Corps Headquarters fell back to Wardrecques, 
between St. Omer and Hazebrouck, leaving an advanced Signal 
Office at La Motte until the evening of the 12th. During the next 
few days it became evident that the front was established again — 
at any rate temporarily — and the work of restoring the normal net- 
work of communication at once commenced, at first with great 
shortage of material, as all forward signal dumps had been cap- 

Captain Dingwall, whose health had suffered under the con- 
tinuous strain in France, now left the Company to join L Signal 
Battalion, and was replaced by Captain Ross, who was relieved 
of the Heavy Artillery Section by Lieutenant Collins. Lieutenant 
Hill took up duty at headquarters, and Lieutenant McArthur left 
the Wireless Section for 51 Air Line. 

At this time also Lieut enant-General Sir J. P. Ducane was 
summoned to replace Sir Henry Rawlinson on the Versailles Coun- 
cil, and the XV. Corps was henceforward commanded by Lieu- 
tenant-General Sir B. de Lisle. The departure of General Ducane 
was much regretted by the Company, as he had always taken a 
close interest in communications, and showed keen appreciation 
of the work done, as is shown by the following extract from a letter 
written by him to Colonel Harrison after the termination of hos- 
tilities : — 

" In the many bright spots of the XV. Corps, I have always 
maintained, and always will maintain, that the Signal 
Service was far away the best Signal Service of any other 
organization in France. Not only was there a very thor- 
ough grasp of the work, but always — what was so pleasant 
to find — there was a desire to go out of your way to help. 
It is with the greatest pleasure that I write to say how 
much I always appreciate having the South African Signal 
Company in the XV. Corps. They were not only highly 
efficient in all departments of this work, but I can 
honestly say they were the most energetic, hard-working, 
well-disciplined, and courteous body of men that I have 
come across in my experience of the Army. 


" I always felt in dealing with you that nothing was ever too 
much trouble for you or your men, and that no matter 
how exacting the demands made upon you — and they 
were often very heavy indeed — no effort would be spared 
to carry them through successfully. Never were we let 
down during the most trying times — on the Somme, on 
the coast, or on the Lys. During the enemy's attack on 
the Lys in April 1918, the truly remarkable way in which 
all our communications held out for three days, till we 
were compelled to abandon La Motte, greatly facilitated 
the exercise of the command of the Corps during those 
difficult days, and was an eloquent testimony of the 
thoroughness and skill with which the work of preparation 
had been carried out." 

The final holding up of the Germans at Kemmel on the 28th 
April made it possible to commence effective work on the defences 
at Hazebrouck, and during the next few months successive lines 
of trenches and belts of wire came into existence, and seamed the 
country as far back as St. Omer. The Company's share in these 
preparations was work on a buried cable scheme which started 
early in May, and gradually developed as labour and material 
were obtainable, until, when the advance began, a network of 
trenches extended across the whole Corps area for 13,000 yards 
in depth and 7,000 in breadth, embodying thirty miles of seven- 
foot deep trench and nearly 1,200 miles of pair cable. This work, 
though never tested by another offensive, was of great value 
during the prolonged artillery duel which followed the Battle of 
the Lys. The open-wire routes were continuously shelled or 
bombed down, for in this sector, as on the coast, aeroplane bomb- 
ing was a nightly event. 

The series of successful minor operations carried out by the 
Corps in July and August, including the capture of Meteren, and 
the devastating effect of our superior and incessantly active artil- 
lery, no doubt quickened the German decision to evacuate the Lys 
salient. This evacuation commenced at the end of August, and 
thenceforward all rinks were occupied in the rapid restoration of 
communications through the devastated area, now as broad as the 
old Somme battlefield. An attempt was made to utilize the old 
buries laid down by the XV. and other Corps before the retreat ; 


but these were too effectively destroyed by the enemy to admit 
of rapid restoration. 

After the successful attack of the Belgian and Second British 
Armies at the end of September, in which the XV. Corps co- 
operated on the right flank, headquarters were moved to St. Jans- 
Cappel on the 4th October, and on the 21st, to Mouvaux, near 
Tourcoing, following the rapid retreat of the enemy to the Scheldt. 
On this occasion a fast piece of work was done by 91 Air Line 
and B.E. Cable Section, two lines being completed across the Lys 
to the new headquarters — a distance of nearly twenty miles — in 
one day. 

The Signal portion of the preparations for forcing the passage 
of the Scheldt filled the period up to the loth November ; but 
as the enemy retired during the night, and the Armistice was pro- 
claimed the following day, they proved unnecessary. 

The Corps was not selected to accompany the advance to the 
Rhine, and so it fell to the lot of B.E. Section on the 12th to lay 
the last and farthest forward cable in France, from the Scheldt, 
crossing at Pecq to an observation point on the eastern side. 



When the South African Expeditionary Force was organized on 
the termination of the campaign in German South- West Africa, 
Colonel P. G. Stock was appointed S.M.O., and in addition to the 
South African Medical Corps personnel who volunteered for regi- 
mental duties, arranged for the mobilization of one Field Ambu- 
lance and one General Hospital. The former, under the command 
of Lieutenant-Colonel G. H. Usmar, S.A.M.C., assembled at Pot- 
chefstroom with the ist South African Infantry Brigade; while 
the General Hospital was formed at Wynberg, the personnel being 
largely composed of volunteers from the staffs of No. i General 
Hospital, Wynberg, and No. 2 General Hospital, Maitland, and 
included representatives from each of the four provinces of the 
Union. It subsequently provided the personnel for the Depot 
in England, and the South African Military Hospital at Richmond, 
which was after'syards built and organized. 

No hospital equipment was available in South Africa, but the 
official Advisory Committee on Voluntary Aid, of which Sir Thomas 
Smartt was chairman, met the difficulty by voting £15,000 to pur- 
chase it on arrival in England, and a further £1,500 to augment the 
equipment taken by the Field Ambulance. 

Both units accompanied the Infantry Brigade to England, the 
General Hospital embarking on H.M.T. Balmoral Castle at Cape 
Town on 25th September, and the Field Ambulance on H.M.T. 
Kenilworth Castle on October 10, 1915. On arrival there, they 
proceeded to the R.A.M.C. Depot at Twezeldown, near Aldershot. 
At the depot the training of the Field Ambulance proceeded under 
its own officers, and, with the rest of the Brigade, it was present 
at Bordon when her Majesty the Queen reviewed the troops on 
December 2, 1915. On 29th December the unit proceeded by 
route march to Farnham, there entraining for Devonport, where it 



embarked on H.M.T. Corsican for Eg3^t, Alexandria being reached 
on January 13, 1916. 

In the meantime, the personnel of No. i General Hospital — 
which had been particularly fortunate in securing the services of 
some of the leading surgeons and physicians and most experienced 
nurses in South Africa — was temporarily detailed to strengthen 
the staffs of various Imperial hospitals in England. On 20th 
December, however, the unit was reassembled at Bournemouth, 
where it took over and staffed the Mont Dore Military Hospital, 
which, under an Imperial officer as commandant, had just been 
equipped for 520 patients. 

In February 1916 the control of the *' Grata Quies " Auxiliary 
Hospital was transferred to the Mont Dore, which became a " Central 
Hospital," and on April i, 1916, seventeen additional auxiliary 
hospitals, situated in the districts of Poole, Wimbourne, Swanage, 
Sherbourne, and Yeovil, were affiliated, increasing the number of 
beds controlled to over 1,200. 

The first patients from overseas were admitted on 8th January, 
the majority being medical cases, and although a number of severe 
cases of ** trench feet '* from Gallipoli were taken in, few wounded 
were received up to the time the unit left on July 3, 1916, when 
it proceeded to Aldershot preparatory to joining the British Expedi- 
tionary Force in France. 

When the decision to send South African troops to England 
became known, a number of prominent South Africans in London 
formed a committee under the chairmanship of Lord Gladstone — 
until recently the Governor-General — ^to start a fund for the es- 
tabUshment of a hospital and for the general comfort of the troops. 
On the arrival of the contingent in England this movement received 
renewed attention, a proposal then being under consideration to 
erect huts to accommodate some three hundred patients, as a South 
African wing to the Royal Victoria Hospital at Netley. On further 
investigation, however, it was found that the site, although in 
many respects an ideal one in the summer, would not have been 
suitable for South African troops during the winter, and further 
search had to be made. Many places and buildings were inspected, 
and finally a site in Richmond Park, for which his Majesty the 
King was graciously pleased to grant the necessary permission, was 
selected, and no more beautiful, convenient, and healthy spot 
could possibly have been obtained. 

Colonel P. G. STOCK, C.B., C.B.E. 
D.D.M.S., South African Forces. 



Much of the success of this hospital was due to the time and 
care spent over the plans, and Mr. AUison, the chief architect of the 
Office of Works, was always ready to adopt any recommendations 
made by Lieutenant-Colonel Stock and the expert sub-committee 
of officers of No. i General Hospital who were dealing with the pro- 
ject. The desire was to provide 500 beds, but for financial reasons 
it was decided to start with 300, on the basis of plans which 
provided for future necessary extensions. 
I The construction was begun early in March, and on June 16, 
1916, the hospital was formally opened by its patroness, H.R.H. 
Princess Christian, being then taken over fully equipped as a gift 
from South Africans by the D.D.M.S., London District, on behalf 
of the Army Council. 

On the opening of the hospital, the S.A.M.C. Depot in England 
was transferred to Richmond, and a redistribution of the personnel 
of No. I General Hospital carried out, which enabled a South 
African Staff to be placed in charge of Richmond without inter- 
fering with the efficiency of the former unit. Major Thornton, the 
adjutant and registrar of No, i South African General Hospital, 
succeeded Lieutenant-Colonel Stock in command at Richmond, 
and Captain Basil Brooke was appointed adjutant and registrar 
of No. I General Hospital. Before, however, proceeding further 
with the history of the South African Hospital at Richmond, it 
will be convenient to follow the fortunes of the units which left 

On January 13, 1916, No. i South African Field Ambulance 
arrived at Alexandria on H.M.T. Corsican, and marched the fol- 
lowing day to Mex Camp, where the rest of the Brigade was en- 
camped. Its history is included in that of the South African 
Infantry Brigade, with which it was associated from this date until 
the cessation of hostiHties. 

On the arrival of No. i South African General Hospital at 
Aldershot, the final touches were given to the unit, and about 
400 shipping tons of stores and equipment drawn, which, by 
a special arrangement with the Army Council, had been paid for 
out of the £15,000 voted by Sir Thomas Smartt's Committee in 
Cape Town. 

On I2th July the unit entrained for Southampton, there to 
embark on H.M.T. Hunter aft. The ship berthed at Havre about 
10.30 a.m. on the 13th, and as she was urgently required elsewhere. 


the unloading at once commenced ; and on the following day the 
unit — together with its stores and equipment — ^left for Abbeville, 
which was reached on 15th July. 

Here it was found that the hospital would be established next 
to No. 2 Stationary Hospital, an Imperial unit which had been 
there for some time. The necessity for not interfering with the 
ripening harvest considerably curtailed the choice of a site, the 
ground allotted being a ploughed field on the slope of the hills 
overlooking the valley of the Somme. Abbeville itself lay about 
a mile away in the valley, but the railway station and " triage " 
were on the far side of the town and must have been nearly three 
miles from the hospital. 

Some hospital marquees had already been erected, but the lay- 
out of the hospital was greatly handicapped by the cramped area 
of ground then available. As the corn was reaped more ground 
became vacant, and, later on, by frequent striking and repitching 
of tents, the hospital gradually took a more symmetrical and work- 
able shape. 

When the unit arrived in France the First Battle of the Somme 
had begun, and hospital accommodation was urgently required 
for the large number of casualties. So, in the absence of any kind 
of building, a store tent was converted into an operating tent ; an 
improvised sterilizing shelter erected ; and within forty-eight hours 
of arrival patients were admitted and every available surgeon 
hard at work. 

In those early days the wide surgical experience and considered 
judgment of Lieutenant-Colonel Ritchie Thomson proved in- 
valuable. He had accepted the post of chief surgeon when the 
hospital was mobiUzed in South Africa, and many a sorely wounded 
man owes his life and limb to his skill and judgment. 

The initial difficulties were many : buildings and engineering 
services were almost impossible to obtain, and it was not until the 
end of November that the operating block — the first building to 
be erected — ^was completed. All, however, were willing workers, 
and it was not long before additional tentage was pitched and Major 
Merritt had organized the kitchens, stores, and a hundred and one 
odd things appertaining to the Quartermaster's Department, all 
of which mean so much to the efficiency and comfort of any hospital. 

Until early in August the hospital was without its own nursing 
Sisters — these services being performed by members of the 


Q.A.I.M.N.S., the Canadian Military Nursing Service, and English 
V.A.D.'s, who did all that hard work and devotion to duty could 
do to make up for the shortage in number. On 5th August, however. 
Matron Creagh and twenty-one members of the S.A.M.N.S. arrived 
from England, and the greatest difficulties in this respect were over. 
The nurses' camp had to be pitched in the wooded ground of a 
chateau some little distance off ; but when the storm clouds rolled 
up the valley, and the winter rains set in, they had perforce to be 
billeted in the town until the huts which were contemplated for 
them were completed. 

Situated as it was at the advanced base in a convenient position 
for their reception, the hospital, during the autumn of 1916, 
received a large number of wounded direct from the Somme battle- 
field. Amongst the earliest admissions m July 1916 were South 
Africans wounded at Delville Wood, and towards the end of July 
General Lukin was one of the first officer patients. 

The most severely wounded journeyed by specially-fitted 
hospital barges, which, from the casualty clearing stations around 
Corbie, floated down the Somme to Abbeville, where the patients 
were disembarked and taken by motor ambulances to the hospital. 
The use of barges was restricted to those cases who were unable to 
stand the strain of a journey by train. Usually they travelled in 
pairs, but on more than one occasion during the autumn of 191 6 
patients from six barges were admitted during the twenty-four hours. 
Towards the end of 1916 the barges ceased running, as the winter 
rains had rendered the passage down the Somme too dangerous, 
and they were not again employed, as the advance in the spring 
of 1917 carried the fighting away from the river. 

Fortunately, during the first few weeks after the arrival of the 
unit in France, the weather was fine, but even then difficulties were 
experienced in regard to the main road leading to the hospital. 
For part of the way this was formed by " sleepers," but as the supply 
of them gave out beech planking had to be substituted. This 
quickly " warped," and becoming displaced with the constant 
traffic, was always a source of trouble, as the underl5dng chalk 
during the dry weather quickly powdered to a fine dust, and later, 
when the rains set in, turned into a particularly greasy form of mud. 

As soon as materials and labour became available, the " sleeper 
track " was continued, and a large " triage " constructed on which 
the ambulance wagons could turn ; but it was not until many months 

(2,097) 21 


later that it became possible to build a macadamized road con- 
necting the hospital with the Route d'Amiens. The old entrance 
was then utiUzed as an exit for empty wagons, and the original 
signboard of the hospital, on which Major Merritt had painted 
the Springbok badge, was removed to the new entrance. 

Progress was gradually made in the erection of temporary 
buildings, and by the end of 1916 there was accommodation in 
huts for 120 patients. It was obvious, however, that for that 
winter at least the majority of beds would be under canvas, and 
a particularly successful form of sliding door with windows at the 
top was designed ; and with the funds available a local contractor 
was engaged, who quickly fitted them at each end of the tented 
wards. At the same time the Royal Engineers undertook the 
installation of stoves and wood flooring, and with doors closed 
and the sides of the tents fastened down the tented wards were 
really most comfortable. " Duck " boarding also gradually became 
more plentiful. 

During the period July 23, 1916, to December 31, 1916, the total 
admissions were 6,436, of whom 3,032 were " battle casualties ** 
and 3,404 ** sick." During the same period 5,719 were " discharged 
hospital.'' Of these 673 were returned to duty ; 548 transferred 
to convalescent depots ; 3,306 evacuated to the United Kingdom ; 
and 1,192 transferred to hospitals at other bases in France. Five 
hundred and eighty-eight major operations were performed ; and 
there were in all, for the same period, 236 deaths, or — calculated 
on the number of admissions — a percentage of 3.68. This com- 
paratively high mortality is explained by the fact that practically 
every case admitted to this hospital was seriously wounded — the 
barges, from which the large majority of cases were received, only 
carrying those cases which were unfit to travel by other means of 
transport. The mortality was further increased owing to the fact 
that this hospital was the nearest General Hospital to the Somme 
front, and many moribund patients were taken off ambulance 
trains on account of their being too ill to travel to more distant 
bases. By the end of the year, in addition to the operation block, 
hutted accommodation for 120 patients was erected, and in the 
early part of 1917 hutted quarters for the nursing staff and rooms 
for officers', sergeants', and men's messes were added, as well as 
buildings for part of the quartermaster's stores. 

Early in the year instructions were received from General 


Headquarters' that the hospital was to be enlarged from 520 beds 
to a normal capacity of 1,120 beds, with a " crisis expansion " to 
1,500 beds. The hospital remained on this basis, and during the 
latter part of 1917, and not infrequently during 1916, as many as 
1,600 to 1,700 patients were accommodated at one time. 

The total admissions for the year 1917 were 19,109, of which 
7,613 were battle casualties and 11,496 were sick. During the 
same period there were 18,277 discharges. Of this number 2,638 
were returned to duty, 4,253 were transferred to convalescent depots, 
8,749 were evacuated to the United Kingdom, and 2,637 were 
transferred to hospitals at other bases in France. One thousand 
two hundred and ten major operations were performed during the 
year 1917. For the same period, including eleven cases brought in 
for burial, there were 181 deaths in the hospital. Of these 128 were 
due to wounds — a percentage of 1.68 ; and 53 were due to sickness — 
a percentage of .46. The death rate from all causes for this year 
worked out at .94 per cent. 

Promises of hutted accommodation, both for patients and 
personnel, were current for at least twelve months. Nothing, 
however, happened in this direction, except that an administration 
block and a new kitchen for the hospital were built ; and in Oc- 
tober 1917, with keen remembrances of the previous winter, it 
was decided to erect such huts as was possible with labour supplied 
by the staff of the hospital. A start was made, with the idea of 
housing the men of the company who were over forty years of age, 
and a hut was built, using discarded telegraph poles as the prin- 
cipals, covered with corrugated iron and lined with wood — the 
lining being bought from funds provided by the South African 
Hospital and Comforts Fund at a cost of, approximately, £120. 

Stimulated by the success of the first, the building of the second 
hut was then taken in hand ; and eventually, with the assistance 
of the engineer services, comfortable quarters for all the personnel 
were erected. In January 1918 six hospital " Adrian " huts were 
erected, but were not completed until the end of March, chiefly 
owing to the lack of labour and uncertainty as to whether the 
hospital would have to be evacuated. Three double " Nissen " 
hospital huts were subsequently added — ^the last not being quite 
finished when the armistice was signed. The erection of a further 
eight, which would have completed the building programme of the 
hospital, was cancelled. 


For the first few months all traffic to the hospital had to pass 
through a neighbouring hospital — No. 2 Stationary, R.A.M.C. — 
this being not only inconvenient, but leading to congestion. Later, 
a metalled road was made through the South African Hospital 
leading to the Amiens road and looping within the hospital. 
Tliis meant that traffic was easily managed, and made the handling 
of convoys infinitely easier. In the summer of 1918 a tarred surface 
was put on to this road, which proved a great help in keeping down 
the dust. 

The necessity for a special railway siding for the three large 
hospitals in this area to avoid the long, rough, and frequently 
interrupted journeys by ambulance from and to the main station 
was also met. 

A church was erected within the precincts of the hospital, the 
cost of which was defrayed partly by subscriptions received from 
the patients and personnel, and partly by a donation of f;]<^ from 
the South African Hospital and Comforts Fund, London. It was 
dedicated in the name of St. Winifred to the memory of the 
late staff nurse — Miss Winifred Munro, South African MiUtary 
Nursing Service — and as a tribute to her devotion to duty. 

In December 1917 the hospital was specially selected for the 
reception and treatment of cases of fracture of the femur. Beds 
for the accommodation of 200 such cases were provided — 50 being 
reserved for officers, and 150 for other ranks. The special bed 
and technique devised at the hospital were afterwards adopted as 
the standard for the British Army. 

During the German offensive of 1918 the hospital passed through 
what was its period of most intense activity. The medical staff 
was depleted to replace casualties in the South African Field Am- 
bulance and other units in the forward areas, while reinforcements 
from the male personnel were sent to the Field Ambulance. Prac- 
tically all the female nursing staffs from this district were with- 
drawn, on account of the enemy advance and the frequent bombing 
at night by hostile aeroplanes of the back areas. Thus the number 
of medical officers in charge of wards was reduced to 8 instead 
of the normal 22 ; the male personnel fell to 188 — the normal 
establishment being 212 ; while the female nursing staff, with a 
normal estabUshment of 88, was reduced to 8. 

With this depleted staff it would have appeared almost im- 
possible to look after a normal number of patients, but many more 


than normal had to be dealt with during the last week of March, 
1,820 being admitted and 2,365 discharged. 

Many of these received at the hospital their first medical 
attention since leaving the battlefield, and a very large number 
had to be operated upon immediately. 

This involved teams working in the operating theatre day and 
night, but all members of the unit rose to the occasion and worked 
with a splendid will and cheerfulness under these trying conditions. 

The huts recently erected for accommodating the personnel had 
to be evacuated by them to make room for patients, of whom 
as many as ninety slightly wounded were packed into one hut on 
stretchers. The men were crowded into the remaining three huts, 
and the overflow slept on the football field. 

Nor did the work end here, for, owing to the threat of hostile 
air attacks, it became urgently necessary to dig protective trenches 
for patients, sisters, officers, and other ranks, and also to erect 
sandbagged revetments around the wards which contained the help- 
less patients. Outside assistance at this time was unprocurable, as 
all labour was fully employed in the digging of a defensive system 
at FHxecourt to protect the town of Abbeville, and the task there- 
fore fell on all ranks of the personnel. Soon after this air alarms 
became an almost nightly occurrence, and even when raids did not 
actually take place, sleep was broken. But the nursing staff and 
all inmates of the hospital passed through this prolonged period 
of physical and mental strain without failing to respond adequately 
to the demands made on them. Though no definite attack was 
made by hostile aircraft on the hospital, bombs on several occasions 
fell uncomfortably near, one actually falling inside the grounds. 
This fortunately buried itself before exploding, and, beyond tearing 
the roof of a tent used as a carpenter's shop, did no damage. 

The approach of the enemy and the frequency of bombing raids 
made the retention of cases of fracture of the femur in this hospital 
inadvisable, and on that account as many as possible were evacuated 
to the United Kingdom, together with the greater portion of the 
special equipment used for these cases. 

Not long after the last consignment was despatched the Allied 
offensive began, and the heavy influx of fractured femur cases — 
amounting to more than 150 in the hospital at one time — 
made it necessary to use improvised apparatus for dealing with a 
number increased to this extent, in spite of the fact that as many 


of these cases as possible were at once evacuated to the United 

During the months of June and July 1918 the admissions of 
sick to the hospital were large, owing to an epidemic of influenza. 
Since then admissions steadily increased, both of sick and 
wounded, due to the offensive which began in the latter part 
of July and which continued up to the signing of the armistice. 

During September the admissions reached the figure of 3,276, 
while in October they numbered 3,214, and the discharges 3,318. 
For the period of January i to November 30, 1918, the total ad- 
missions were 20,089. Of these 8,716 were battle casualties, and 
ii»373 were sick ; discharges for the same period amounted to 
19,921. Of these, 4,196 were returned to duty ; 4,229 were trans- 
ferred to convalescent depots ; 9,028 were evacuated to the United 
Kingdom ; and 2,468 were transferred to other hospitals in France. 

All the tented wards were equipped with sliding doors, the first 
of which were provided out of South African funds. These were 
made by a French contractor to our design, and the type was after- 
wards adopted for all hospitals in this area. The engineer services 
eventually supplied the remainder of the wards with similar doors. 

A considerable amount of extra equipment was also provided 
out of South African funds, notably, an extra operating table, 
portable ray apparatus for use in the fractured femur wards, ad- 
ditional surgical instruments, and the apparatus necessary for 
Ionic medication. 

The appearance of the hospital grounds improved from year 
to year, grass lawns and flower-beds being laid out, and vegetable 
gardening being carried on each year on a progressively larger scale. 

From the early days of the unit in France a field adjoining the 
hospital was available for purposes of recreation, the rent being 
paid from hospital funds. During all seasons of the year it was 
made full use of by the unit for football, hockey, cricket, and 
other games. Badminton and tennis courts were constructed in 
the of&cers' and sisters' quarters, and a tennis court was made on 
ground adjoining the recreation field for the use of other ranks of 
the unit. 

In June 1917 a surgical team for duty at a casualty clearing 
station was provided by the unit, and performed continuous duty 
in the forward ^:ea.s until December of that year. Since then a 
surgical team performed duty in the front areas on eight oc- 


casions. In addition, nursing sisters from time to time were 
detailed for duty on ambulance trains and for nursing duties and 
as anaesthetists at casualty clearing stations. 

On July 10, 1917, the hospital was honoured by a visit from 
her Majesty the Queen and his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. 
Her Majesty inspected three of the wards in the Hospital and the 
operating theatre block, and before leaving was graciously pleased 
to express her entire satisfaction with the work of the Hospital. 

To return to the South African Military Hospital at Richmond. 
In September 1916 the Army Council, on its own account, pro- 
posed to add to the accommodation; the Committee, however, 
considered that, in view of the fact that the provision of 500 beds 
had been originally contemplated, the additional accommodation 
proposed should be undertaken by the Committee. This neces- 
sitated a further appeal for funds; but, to avoid delay, Mr. Otto 
Beit generously gave a very substantial contribution. Eventually 
the total donations received from the issue of the second appeal 
assured the extension being carried through. The work was pressed 
forward, and the extension was opened for patients in February 
1917. It was, however, hardly in use when a demand was made 
for further beds. This was met by the Committee converting into 
wards the quarters originally built for orderhes, and by renting a 
neighbouring house as an annex, so that in April 1917 the total 
accommodation for patients had increased to 620 beds. 

Early in 191 8 the War Office, seeing that the Richmond MiUtary 
Hospital was almost entirely filled with South African patients, 
proposed to the Committee that the South African and the Rich- 
mond hospitals should be amalgamated, the combined hospitals 
to be known as the South African Military Hospital. The Com- 
mittee readily agreed, and the two hospitals were completely 
amalgamated on July i, 1918. 

The enlarged hospital provided 1,098 beds ; but even this was 
not sufficient, and 250 emergency beds were added by billeting 
patients in the neighbourhood. In addition, four auxihary hos- 
pitals were attached, bringing the total number of beds to 1,321, 
or, including billets, 1,571. 

The Park section of the combined hospitals stood on an en- 
closed site of about twelve acres, the actual area of the building 
being about two and one-third acres. The construction throughout 


was of timber with felt and weather-board linings on the outside, 
and asbestos board-sheeting on the inside of the walls and ceiUngs 
of all wards and principal rooms. A special feature of this section 
was the bath ward, with six fire-clay continuous baths for the 
treatment of patients suffering from severe wounds. 

The Grove Road extension was a brick building, and consisted 
for the most part of modern infirmary wards supplemented by 
additional wards in old buildings. 

The equipment of the Park section was entirely provided by 
the Committee, while that of the Grove Road section was found by 
the Board of Guardians and the War Office, and was only where 
necessary supplemented by the Committee. 

Towards the end of 1916 the Committee offered the privilege 
of naming a bed in the hospital to any persons or institutions 
making a gift of £25, and of naming a ward for a donation of £600. 
The appeal resulted in 99 beds and 8 wards being thus named, 
approximately 265 of the beds being the gifts of schools in South 
Africa, the organization for these being initiated and carried out 
by Mr. Maskew Miller of Cape Town. 

The principal corridors and rooms in the hospital were named 
after well-known streets or places in South Africa, all the principal 
towns in the Union being represented. The result of this, and of 
placing the tablets over the beds, was that familiar names greeted 
the South African visitor — a happy idea on the part of the Com- 
mittee, and one which was much appreciated by the sick and 
wounded of the contingent. 

The Committee expended approximately £45,000 on building the 
hospital and its extensions, and £19,000 on equipment. The former 
figure, however, includes a sum of approximately £2,000 expended 
in erecting a concert hall and certain workshops, while the latter 
figure includes considerable sums spent on replacements. That 
the money was well spent is shown by the fact that the hospital 
was always regarded as one of the model war hospitals in the 
United Kingdom. 

The medical staff consisted of thirteen officers of the South 
African Medical Corps, and eleven civilian practitioners, who for 
various causes were not eligible for commissions in the S.A.M.C. 

Various changes naturally occurred in the staff owing to inter- 
changes being effected from time to time with the units in France. 
When Lieutenant -Colonel Thornton took over the command he 


was succeeded as registrar by Captain Coghlan, S.A.M.C., who 
in turn was succeeded by Major J. C. A. Rigby, S.A.M.C. The 
first quartermaster was Major G. Merritt, S.A.M.C, who left, 
however, with No. i South African General Hospital when that 
unit proceeded to France, his duties being taken over by Captain 
Lunney, S.A.M.C. In the autumn of 1917 Captain Lunney re- 
lieved Major Merritt in France, and Major Merritt then returned 
to Richmond, where shortly after he was promoted to the rank of 

The nursing staff under the matron — Miss Jackson, R.R.C., 
Q.A.I. M.N. S. — consisted of 2 assistant matrons, 23 nursing sisters, 
55 staff nurses, and 88 probationers, the larger proportion of whom 
were South Africans. The trained members of the staff mostly 
belonged to the Q.A.I.M.N.S. (Res.), or to the S.A.M.N.S. The 
subordinate personnel consisted, with a few exceptions, of N.C.O.'s 
and men who, having been invalided owing to wounds or sickness 
in the field, did duty at the hospital while regaining health and 

The hospital also served as the depot for the S.A.M.C. sub- 
ordinate personnel ; and 18 drafts, comprising 423 men, were sent 
to France as reinforcements for the First South African General 
Hospital and the First South African Field Ambulance. 

The number of patients admitted up to October 31, 1918, was 
274 officers and 9,412 other ranks — a total of 9,686. This does not 
include any patients admitted to the Richmond MiUtary Hospital 
prior to the~ date of amalgamation. Of the 9,686 patients, 2,628 
belonged to Imperial units, but included a good many South Africans, 
and 7,058 were members of the South African Contingent; 8,260 
patients were discharged, including 6,230 members of the Contingent. 

The total number of operations performed under a general 
anaesthetic was 2,125, and the number of medical boards held was 

Most of the swabs and bandages used in the hospital were 
manufactured in the South African workrooms, organized by a 
group of ladies attached to the South African Comforts Committee. 
The ladies responsible for these workrooms made most of the curtains 
and other similar articles required to equip the hospital, and under- 
took most of the mending. Under Mrs. Friedlander they rendered 
most valuable assistance to the hospital since its foundation, and 
their help was much appreciated by all concerned. 


From the very first the Committee spared neither trouble nor 
money to provide for the comfort and welfare of the patients. At 
first the work of visitation and entertainment was organized under 
Lady (Lionel) Phillips, but later it was taken over by the Red Cross 
sub-committee of the Fund. For those sufficiently convalescent 
to enjoy them, every possible variety of amusement was provided. 
On four or five nights a week some form of entertainment was given 
in the large concert hall, while every week theatres or places of 
interest were visited, a special feature being the river trips arranged 
by the " African World " War Comforts Service, who also very 
generously provided gifts of fruit and other comforts. Further, 
in order that nothing should be left undone. Lady Phillips founded 
a riverside club in close proximity to the hospital, for the benefit 
of those patients sufficiently convalescent to enjoy the deUghts of 
its garden and picturesque river views. 

Arrangements for bedside occupational work were, in the early 
days of the hospital, made by lady visitors. Material for fancy 
work and needlework was generously provided, and the making 
of regimental crests and other work of a like nature helped patients 
to pass in bed many a weary hour when they were still too weak to 
be doing the more serious vocational work. 

Shortly after the hospital was opened the problem of deahng 
with the permanently disabled men of the Contingent had to be 
faced. After negotiations with the War Office, it was arranged 
that a Vocational Training School should be estabHshed in connec- 
tion with the hospital. A commencement was made in November 
1916, and the school was finally opened in February 1917. The 
scheme involved awakening the men while still in bed to interest 
in their future, so that when well enough they might go to the 
classrooms and undertake extensive courses of training. The 
South African Military Hospital was the first primary hospital 
in the United Kingdom in which permanently disabled men, while 
being restored to the best possible physical condition, were trained, 
with due regard to their disabilities, for a civil career to enable them 
on discharge from the army to become self-supporting members 
of the community. There was what was perhaps a natural re- 
luctance on the part of the Home Government in giving sanction 
to this new venture, which was for many months looked upon as 
being at the best an interesting experiment. The New Zealand 
authorities, however, quickly saw the advantages of the methods. 

APPENDIX 111. 331 

and in August 1917 a similar scheme for their hospitals was 

The desirabiUty of training permanently disabled soldiers while 
still undergoing hospital treatment was finally endorsed at the 
Inter-AlUed Conference on Disablement Problems, held in London 
in May 191 8, and committees were subsequently formed in each 
Command to organize similar work throughout the hospitals of 
the United Kingdom. 

The South African Vocational Training Scheme was carried on 
side by side with the work of the hospital, and was successful both 
in improving the mental attitude — especially of limbless men — and 
in training many disabled men of the Contingent who would other- 
wise have been unproductive to the community. 

The cost of the erection of the workshops — amounting to 
£2,335 — was borne by the South African Hospital and Comforts 
Fund and the Governor-General's Fund. 

Much of the equipment was either given or lent, but about 
£1,200 had to be expended to obtain such tools and apphances as 
could not otherwise be obtained. The latter expenditure was de- 
frayed by the Governor-General's Fund, The scheme also necessi- 
tated the hiring of four houses in the vicinity of the hospital for 
housing students who had been discharged from hospital ; the cost 
of the equipment of these, amounting approximately to £1,400, was 
also met by the two funds. 

These hostels were managed by a small committee appointed 
by the General Committee. The expenditure on rents, rates, and 
taxes for the hostels was shared by the local fund and the Governor- 
General's Fund, but all other expenditure was met by the sub- 
committee which received through the High Commissioner the 
sum of £1 per week for each inmate. This sum represented a ration 
allowance of is. gd. per head per diem received from Defence Votes, 
the balance being made up by the Governor-General's Fund. The 
Union Government also made itself responsible for the pay and 
allowances of the inmates, and entirely relieved the Imperial 
Government of all financial responsibiUty for the period during 
which the men were undergoing training after discharge from 
hospital. The number of crippled men who attended classes since 
their commencement was 393. Of these 167 remained on October 
31, 1918, and 226 had left. Of those remaining, 112 were out- 
students — that is, men discharged from hospital — ^and 55 were 


patients still in hospital. The number of out-students dealt with 
was 215, of whom 103 have left. 

The school was at first under the direction of Mr. Charles Bray, 
but on his resignation owing to ill-health, Staff-Sergeant Newell, 
B.Sc, of the S.A.M.C., and in civil hfe on the staff of the Natal 
Education Department, was appointed as educational organizer. 
He was subsequently granted honorary commissioned rank in the 
Union Defence Force. The propaganda work in the wards and the 
ward teaching were in the hands of Miss Edith Hill, also of the 
Natal Education Department. 

The hostels for housing out-students were managed by a matron 
— Mrs. Lennox, of Lovedale — and a staff of ladies, whose efforts 
were attended with every success. 

But the success of the school, in spite of many initial difficulties, 
was due to the keenness of the men themselves and to the excellent 
co-operative work of the whole staff of the hospital, with the result 
that in a number of cases of limbless men the earning capacity was 
undoubtedly increased as a result of the training they received at 



In 1916 the railways, roads, canals, and docks in the British zone 
in France were brought under the control of " Transportation/' 
which was under the command of Sir Eric Geddes. The War 
Office appealed to the Dominions for Railway Operating Sections, 
or Companies, each consisting of three officers and 266 men. In 
South Africa the position was such that the railways could, at the 
time, only spare sufficient men to form one company, but it was 
arranged to form a second from those not actually in the railway 
service but who had railway experience, or were in other ways fitted 
for the particular work required of them. 

The first company assembled at Potchefstroom in November 
1916, under Captain H. L. Pybus, and the second at Robert's 
Heights, Pretoria, under Captain W. McI. Robinson. Fifty loco- 
motive drivers and a similar number of firemen and guards formed 
the backbone of each company, the balance being composed of 
traffic controllers, blockmen, signalmen, with the necessary mechanics 
and clerical staff to enable each company to operate as a separate 
and a complete unit. 

Lieutenant-Colonel F. R. Collins — ^a mechanical superintendent 
in the South African Railways — was appointed in command, and 
left for England in December 1916, the companies following later 
under the command of Captain (Acting Major) Robinson, and 
arriving at Bordon, Hampshire, in March 1917, at which place 
the depot was formed. 

Both companies arrived in France at the end of March 1917, 
and were detailed for Hght railway work, which was then in its 
initial stage. The first section was renumbered " No. 7, South 
African Light Railway Operating Company," and the second, 



'* No. 8, South African Light Railway Operating Company," the 
former being sent to Romarin on the Belgian border, while the 
latter proceeded to Savy, in the Arras district. Twenty-five drivers 
and a like number of firemen from each company were transferred 
to the Broad Gauge, and remained on that work throughout the war. 
No. 7 Company stayed at Romarin until the operations in con- 
nection with the taking of Messines Village and Ridge were com- 
pleted in June 1917, during which time the Ploegsteert Light 
Railway system was built, over which the company was responsible 
for all traffic, the bulk being ammunition with delivery points at 
the different batteries. The 8th Company took over the Light 
Railway work from Maroeuil to the north and north-east of Arras, 
whence lines were extended after the Vimy Ridge operations. 
In June 1917 both companies proceeded to Audruicq preparatory 
to taking up Broad Gauge work, and were designated No. 92 and 
No. 93 Companies respectively. 

During most of this period Lieutenant-Colonel ColUns was 
attached to Transportation Headquarters, and in May 191 7 was 
appointed Assistant-Director of Light Railways, Fifth Army, 
which was then operating in the Bapaume sector. On the transfer 
of this Army to Belgium to take part in the series of operations 
known as the Third Battle of Ypres, light railways, in addition 
to serving batteries and Royal Engineers, were now required to 
prepare to follow up any advance. For this purpose the services 
of the 92nd and 93rd South African Companies were loaned to 
Light Railways, and took their place with five Imperial Operating 
Companies in the Fifth Army area. They shared in the operations 
up to November 1917, when the offensive ceased. 

During this time the 92nd Company was employed on the system 
north-east of Ypres, eleven of the members being awarded Mihtary 
Medals for individual acts of gallantry and devotion to duty. The 
93rd Company worked from Elverdinghe through Boesinghe to 
Langemarck, and among other duties was responsible for the 
placing of field gun ammunition in position in front of the field 
guns on the eastern slopes of the Pilckem Ridge and in the Steen- 
becque Valley prior to the attacks during September and October 
1917, which led to the front being advanced to the edge of the 
Houthulst Forest. Seven members received the Military Medal 
during this time. 

In January 1918 the Fifth Army took over the sector of forty- 

Lieutenant-Colonel F. R. COLLINS, D.S.O., 
Commanding South African Railway Companies. 


five miles on the extreme south of the British front, and, in anticipa- 
tion of an enemy offensive, Hght railway construction on a con- 
siderable scale was undertaken under Lieutenant-Colonel F. Newell. 
Later, on the division of this system, Lieutenant-Colonel Collins 
took over the northern area — the 92nd and 93rd Companies being 
ordered south from Belgium. The 93rd arrived early in March 
and was sent to Noyon, where it remained until the 23rd, when, 
retirement being forced by the enemy advance, the company 
proceeded by route march to Flexicourt, west of Amiens, and was 
employed on the construction of defence works in company with 
many other transportation units whose usual employment had been 
suspended for a like reason. Later, they were employed on railway 
construction necessitated by the altered conditions. In July 
1918 the Company Headquarters were established at Ligny, east 
of St. Pol, and the operation of the main trunk lines to Arras was 
undertaken. The German retreat caused a forward move, and 
the company, since November, operated over the section Douai 
to Mons inclusive, with headquarters at Somain. 

The 92nd Company, after concentrating in Belgium in March 
for its projected move south, subsequently cancelled owing to the 
enemy's advance, went to Crombeke and from there assisted in 
railway construction and other duties, until in September, when, 
with Berguette as headquarters, the operation of the newly- 
constructed line towards Merville and later towards Armentieres 
was undertaken. In November the Company moved forward to 
Lille, and with headquarters at Tourcoing worked the section from 
Tourcoing to Tournai. 

In 1917 the South African Union Government consented to the 
formation of a Miscellaneous Trades Company for service in 
France. This company began to assemble at Potchefstroom in 
June, and, as recruiting was brisk, it was able to embark fully 
organized at Cape Town as early as 25th July, under the command 
of Captain C. E. Mason, S.A.E. 

Arriving at Bordon on 28th August, the company was given a 
short course of training at the Royal Engineers' Depot there, and 
sent to France on 14th October. Here the company was re- 
numbered the 84th Miscellaneous Trades Company, R.E. (South 
African), and sent to the Director-General of Transportation, 
Chief Mechanical Engineer Department, Locomotive Workshops, 
situated at St. Etienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen, where five com- 


panics of the Royal Engineers, under the command of Lieutenant- 
Colonel Cole, R.E., were already stationed. 

These were the largest locomotive workshops attached to the 
British Armies in France, and, by reason of its large percentage 
of skilled personnel, the 84th Company was enabled to take a very 
considerable share in the activities of the shops, Captain Mason 
being appointed Erecting Works' Manager, and the N.C.O.'s of 
the Company in many instances being entrusted with positions of 
responsibility. On the recall of Captain Mason to South Africa, 
Captain N. S. Weatherley, S.A.E., succeeded to the command of 
the Company. When the armistice was signed in November 1918, 
Lieutenant-Colonel Cole ordered a special parade of the Company, 
in order to express to all ranks his high appreciation of their services, 
which he characterized in the most complimentary terms. 

A depot for the companies in France was originally established 
at Bordon, and was temporarily under the charge of Lieutenant 
Arthur, of the ist section. Advantage was taken of the Instruc- 
tional Establishment at Longmoor to train as many men as possible 
in the operation of petrol tractors, which were largely used in place 
of steam locomotives in the forward areas on light railways. In 
June 1917 the depot was taken over by Captain M. J. Byrne, who, 
on his transfer to France in July 1918 to command the 93rd Com- 
pany, was succeeded by Captain H. E. Greaves, M.C., R.E., the 
depot about the same time being transferred from Bordon to 



In February 1917 the Government of the Union of South 
Africa was asked by the War Office to raise eight companies of 
Cape coloured drivers for service with the Army Service Corps in 
France. The personnel originally required was : — 

Officers 50 

Warrant officers 6 

Non-commissioned officers ..... 60 

Artificers . . . . . . . . 131 

Drivers 2,316 

but this was eventually increased to — 

Officers 67 

Warrant officers 23 

Non-commissioned officers 92 

Artificers and drivers 3,482 

I Towards the end of February Lieutenant-Colonel J. D. Ander- 
son (an officer who had considerable experience in transport work) 
was asked to take command, and to arrange for the recruiting and 
organization of the eight companies. Kimberley was selected as 
the most convenient centre for mobilization, and De Beers Cor- 
poration gave the use of its Nos. i and 3 Compounds. These had 
hutting accommodation for approximately two thousand men. 
They were provided with a hospital, kitchens, washing-rooms — in 
fact everything required — and there is no doubt that the loan of 
these compounds not only facilitated mobilization and saved a 
great deal of expense, but probably accelerated the departure of 
the contingent by at least two months. Lieutenant-Colonel Wynne 
was appointed camp commandant, with Captain MacKeurton as 

(2,097) 337 22 


paymaster, and Captain Cooper as officer in charge of the Records, 
and by the 12th March everything was in readiness for recruiting 
to begin. 

The results were at first disappointing, as recruiting for the 
Cape coloured battalions for service in German East Africa was at 
this time being undertaken, and recruiting committees for this 
purpose were at work at all the principal centres in South Africa. 
In addition there were many questions, such as the appointment 
of coloured N.C.O.'s, increased rates of pay, the rejection of all 
coloured drivers other than Cape coloured drivers, recognition by 
the Governor-General's Fund, and other details, all of which had 
to be settled before the Coloured Recruiting Committees would 
lend their assistance. There was also a lack of Cape Auxiliary 
Horse Transport officers to conduct a special recruiting campaign. 
However, these difficulties were soon overcome, and recruiting 
proceeded with great rapidity. Johannesburg, where Captain Bar- 
low, Captain and Chaplain Rogers, and Lieutenant Graham Moore 
inaugurated a vigorous recruiting campaign ; Cape Town, where 
Lieutenants Gillam and Sawyer, Second-Lieutenant Tracey, S.S.M. 
Simmons, and C.S.M. Creagh met with considerable success ; and 
Knysna, with Second-Lieutenant Anderson and C.Q.M.S. Ste5rtler 
as recruiting officers, each produced five hundred recruits in a 
short time. 

At the beginning the amount of clerical work entailed was very 
heavy, the work being increased owing to the necessity of having 
to reject a large number of drivers who were attested but subse- 
quently found unsuitable. Every officer, warrant officer, and 
N.C.O., however, assisted the Records' officer to such an extent 
that by the middle of April 1,500 men were ready to leave for 
overseas. Unfortunately, shipping could only be found for 867, 
and these sailed in the Euripides on the 20th April. These were 
shortly followed by drafts under the command of Majors 
Jenner and Barnard, and a reinforcement draft under Lieutenant 

On the arrival of the first detachment in France on 23rd May, 
the Director of Transport decided that the contingent should 
release for other service, and take the place of, the Army Service 
Corps personnel, forming the following companies : — 

No. 22 Auxiliary Horse Transport Company, A.S.C., stationed 
at Dunkirk and Calais. 


No. 5 Auxiliary Horse Transport Company, A.S.C., stationed 
at Boulogne. 

No. 2 Auxiliary Horse Transport Company, A.S.C., stationed 
at Havre. 

No. 8 Auxiliary Horse Transport Company, A.S.C., stationed 
at Rouen. 

No. 10 Auxiliary Horse Transport Company, A.S.C., stationed 
at Rouen. 

No. II Auxiliary Horse Transport Company, A.S.C., stationed 
at Rouen. 

Arrangements were also made for a base depot to be established 
at Havre. 

The reorganization was commenced at once, one company of 
the first draft going to Calais and the two others to Rouen. As 
other drafts arrived they were sent to the base depot for three 
weeks, where they were equipped, and went through a course of 
training before being distributed to the various A.S.C. companies. 
Thus by the 31st August the Cape Auxiliary Horse Transport 
detachments had released the whole of the white personnel of six 
companies of the Army Service Corps, with the exception of five 
officers and a certain number of warrant officers and N.C.O.'s, 
whose services it was proposed permanently to retain, while after 
a few months in France the reorganized companies were all com- 
manded by officers of the detachment. 

Though the men did very excellent work at the base posts, 
CQlonel Anderson felt that there were strong arguments in favour 
of them being moved to divisional trains or Army Auxiliary Horse 
Transport companies actually working in the army areas. The 
arguments in favour of the move from a South African point of 
view were unanswerable. The environments at the base posts 
were not good, and the work of the men chiefly lay in the lower 
quarters of the towns where liquor-sellers and their customary 
associates resided. It is greatly to the credit of the men that their 
general conduct was exemplary in spite of the adverse conditions 
under which many of them worked. 

The views of the military authorities in France did not, how- 
ever, coincide with those of Colonel Anderson. All the com- 
mandants of the bases at which the companies were employed 
recommended that they should remain where they were, and 
wrote highly of the men's behaviour, bearing, and discipline. It 


was a great disappointment to all that the companies were not at 
once employed in the army areas ; but a promise was given that, 
if reinforcements proved sufficient, an experiment would be made 
in employing them nearer to the actual scene of fighting. This 
was eventually done, and the ist, 3rd, and 5th Army Auxiliary 
Horse Companies were taken over, the experiment proving an 
unmitigated success. The work of these companies consisted in 
conveying ammunition and supplies to the firing lines, and trans- 
porting metal for the new roads which had to be constructed as 
the armies advanced. 

Of the other companies which were employed on the lines of 
communication, Numbers 2, 5, 8, and 22 Companies were employed 
at the docks, the bulk of the work consisting in conveying muni- 
tions and supplies from the docks to the different distributing 
centres. The work was hard, the hours long, and the drivers 
much exposed to weather conditions. 

Numbers 10 and 11 Companies were designated as " Forest 
Companies," and were employed almost entirely in hauling logs 
from the place where they were felled to dumping centres. In a 
report on the work in the forests in France, Lord Lovat, the Directoi 
of Forests, wrote that, without prejudice to other units, he wished 
to remark on the -work done by the Horse Transport Companies 
manned by South African (Cape coloured) personnel, who had 
shown throughout both practical knowledge of the work and 
patriotic devotion to duty. 

During their stay in France the health of the officers, N.C.O.'s, 
and men was much better than could reasonably have been ex- 
pected. Casualties were estimated at i per cent, per month, but 
this figure was reduced by half. 




Lieutenant (Acting Captain) Andrew Weatherby Beauchamp- 
Proctor, D.S.O., M.C., D.F.C., No. 84 Squadron, Royal Air 

Between August 8, 1918, and October 8, 1918, this officer proved 
himself victor in twenty-six decisive combats, destro5dng twelve 
enemy kite balloons, ten enemy aircraft, and driving down four 
other enemy aircraft completely out of control. 

Between October i, 1918, and October 5, 1918, he destroyed 
two enemy scouts, burned three enemy kite balloons, and drove 
down one enemy scout completely out of control. 

On October i, 1918, in a general engagement with about twenty- 
eight machines, he crasned one Fokker biplane near Fontaine 
and a second near Ramicourt ; on 2nd October he burnt a hostile 
balloon near Selvigny ; on 3rd October he drove down completely 
out of control an enemy scout near Mont d'Origny, and burned a 
hostile balloon ; on 5th October, the third hostile balloon near 


On October 8, 191 8, while flying home at a low altitude after 
destroying an enemy two-seater near Maretz, he was painfully 
wounded in the arm by machine-gun fire ; but, continuing, he landed 
safely at his aerodrome, and after making his report was admitted 
to hospital. 

In all, he has proved himself conqueror over fifty-four foes, de- 
stro5dng twenty-two enemy machines, sixteen enemy kite balloons, 
and driving down sixteen enemy aircraft completely out of control. 

Captain Beauchamp-Proctor's work in attacking enemy troops 
on the ground and in reconnaissance during the withdrawal foUow- 



ing on the battle of St. Quentin, from March 21, 1918, and during 
the victorious advance of our armies commencing on 8th August, 
has been almost unsurpassed in its brilliancy, and as such has made 
an impression on those serving in his squadron and those around 
him that will not be easily forgotten. 

Captain Beauchamp-Proctor was awarded the MiUtary Cross on 
June 22, 1918 ; the Distinguished Flying Cross on July 2, 1918 ; 
a bar to the Military Cross on September 16, 191 8 ; and the Dis- 
tinguished Service Order on November 2, 1918. 

Captain William Anderson Bloomfield, Scouts Corps, South 
African Mounted Brigade. 
At Mlali, East Africa, on August 24, 1916. For most con- 
spicuous bravery. Finding that, after being heavily attacked in 
an advanced and isolated position, the enemy were working round 
his flanks. Captain Bloomfield evacuated his wounded and sub- 
sequently withdrew his command to a new position, he himself 
being among the last to retire. On arrival at the new position he 
found that one of the wounded — No. 2475, Corporal D. M. P. Bowker 
— had been left behind. Owing to very heavy fire he experienced 
dif&culties in having the wounded corporal brought in. Rescue 
meant passing over some four hundred yards of open ground, 
swept by heavy fire, in full view of the enemy. This task Captain 
Bloomfield determined to face himself, and unmindful of personal 
danger, he succeeded in reaching Corporal Bowker and carrying 
him back, subjected throughout the double journey to heavy 
machine-gun and rifle fire. This act showed the highest degree of 
valour and endurance. 

No. 1630, Sergeant Frederick Charles Booth, South African 
Forces, attached Rhodesia Native Regiment. 
At Johannesbruck, near Songea, East Africa, on February 
12, 1917. For most conspicuous bravery during an attack, in thick 
bush, on the enemy position. Under very heavy rifle fire. Sergeant 
Booth went forward alone and brought in a man who was danger- 
ously wounded. Later, he rallied native troops who were badly 
disorganized, and brought them to the firing fine. This N.C.O. 
has, on many previous occasions, displayed the greatest bravery, 
coolness, and resource in action, and has set a splendid example of 
pluck, endurance, and determination. 


No. 4073, Private William Frederick Faulds, ist Regiment, 
South African Infantry. 

At Delville Wood, France, on July 18, 1916. For most 
conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty. A bombing party 
under Lieutenant Craig attempted to rush across forty yards of 
ground which lay between the British and enemy trenches. Com- 
ing under very heavy rifle and machine-gun fire, the ofi&cer and the 
majority of the party were killed or wounded. Unable to move, 
Lieutenant Craig lay midway between the two lines of trenches, 
the ground being quite open. In full dayUght Private Faulds, 
accompanied by two other men, climbed the parapet, ran out, 
picked up the officer and carried him back, one man being severely 
wounded in so doing. 

Two days later Private Faulds again showed most conspicuous 
bravery in going out alone to bring in a wounded man and carrying 
him nearly half a mile to a dressing-station, subsequently rejoining 
his platoon. The artillery fire was at the time so intense that 
stretcher bearers and others considered that any attempt to bring 
in the wounded man meant certain death. This risk Private Faulds 
faced unflinchingly, and his bravery was crowned with success. 

Lieutenant Robert Vaughan Gorle, " A " Battery, 50th 
Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. 

For most conspicuous bravery, initiative, and devotion to duty 
during the attack at Ledeghem on October i, 1918, when in com- 
mand of an eighteen-pounder gun working in close conjunction with 
infantry. He brought his gun into action in the most exposed 
positions on four separate occasions, and disposed of enemy machine 
guns by firing over open sights under direct machine-gun fire at 
five hundred to six hundred yards range. 

Later, seeing that the infantry were being driven back by intense 
hostile fire, he without hesitation galloped his gun in front of the 
leading infantry, and on two occasions knocked out enemy machine 
guns which were causing the trouble. His disregard of personal 
safety and dash were a magnificent example to the wavering line, 
which ralHed and retook the northern end of the village. 

Major (Acting Lieutenant-Colonel) Harry Greenwood, 
D.S.O., M.C., 9th Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Light 
For most conspicuous bravery, devotion to duty, and fine leader- 


ship on October 23-24, 1918. When the advance of his battalion 
on the 23rd October was checked, and many casualties caused 
by an enemy machine-gun post, Lieutenant -Colonel Greenwood, 
single-handed, rushed the post and killed the crew. At the en- 
trance to the village of Ovillers, accompanied by two battalion 
runners, he again rushed a machine-gun post and killed the oc- 

On reaching the objective west of Duke's Wood, his command 
was almost surrounded by hostile machine-gun posts, and the enemy 
at once attacked his isolated force. The attack was repulsed, and, 
led by Lieutenant-Colonel Greenwood, his troops swept forward 
and captured the last objective with one hundred and fifty prisoners, 
eight machine guns, and one field gun. 

During the attack on the " Green Line," south of Poix du Nord, 
on 24th October, he again displayed the greatest gallantry in rush- 
ing a machine-gun post, and he showed conspicuously good leader- 
ship in the handling of his command in the face of heavy fire. He 
inspired his men in the highest degree, with the result that the 
objective was captured, and in spite of heavy casualties the line 
was held. 

During the advance on Grand Gay Farm Road, on the after- 
noon of 24th October, the skilful and bold handling of his battalion 
was productive of most important results, not only in securing 
the flank of his brigade but also in safeguarding the flank of 
the Division. 

His valour and leading during two days of fighting were beyond 
all praise. 

Captain Percy Howard Hansen, Adjutant, 6th (Service) 
Battalion, the Lincolnshire Regiment. 
For most conspicuous bravery on August 9, 1915, at Yilghin 
BuRNU, GaUipoli Peninsula. After the second capture of the 
" Green Knoll " his battalion was forced to retire, leaving some 
wounded behind, owing to the intense heat from the scrub which 
had been set on fire. When the retirement was effected. Captain 
Hansen, with three or four volunteers, on his own initiative, dashed 
forward several times some three hundred to four hundred yards 
over open ground into the scrub, under a terrific fire, and succeeded 
in rescuing from inevitable death by burning no less than six 
wounded men. 


Lieutenant (Acting Captain) Reginald Frederick Johnson 
Hayward, M.C, Wiltshire Regiment. 

Near Fremicourt, France, on March 21-22, 1918. For most 
conspicuous bravery in action. This officer, while in command of 
a company, displayed almost superhuman powers of endurance 
and consistent courage of the rarest nature. In spite of the fact 
that he was buried, wounded in the head, and rendered deaf on 
the first day of operations, and had his arm shattered two days 
later, he refused to leave his men (even though he received a third 
serious injury to his head), until he collapsed from sheer physical 

Throughout the whole of this period the enemy were attacking 
his company front without cessation, but Captain Hayward con- 
tinued to move across the open from one trench to another with 
absolute disregard of his own personal safety, concentrating entirely 
on reorganizing his defences and encouraging his men. It was 
almost entirely due to the magnificent example of ceaseless energy 
of this officer that many most determined attacks upon his portion 
of the trench system failed entirely. 

No. 8162, Lance-Corporal William Henry Hewitt, 2nd Regi- 
ment, South African Infantry. 
At east of Ypres on September 20, 191 7. For most conspicuous 
bravery during operations. Lance-Corporal Hewitt attacked a 
" pill-box " with his section and tried to rush the doorway. The 
garrison, however, proved very stubborn, and in the attempt this 
non-commissioned officer received a severe wound. Nevertheless, 
he proceeded to the loophole of the " pill-box " where, in his attempts 
to put a bomb into it, he was again wounded in the arm. Unde- 
terred, however, he eventually managed to get a bomb inside, 
which caused the occupants to dislodge, and they were successfully 
and speedily dealt with by the remainder of the section. 

Second-Lieutenant (Acting Captain) Arthur Moore Lascelles, 
3rd (attached 14th) Battalion, Durham Light Infantry. 
At Masnieres, France, on December 3, 1917. For most con- 
spicuous bravery, initiative, and devotion to duty when in command 
of his company in a very exposed position. After a very heavy 
bombardment, during which Captain Lascelles was wounded, the 
enemy attacked in strong force but was driven off, success being 


due in a great degree to the fine example set by this officer, who, 
refusing to allow his wound to be dressed, continued to encourage 
his men and organize the defence. 

Shortly afterwards the enemy again attacked and captured the 
trench, taking several of his men prisoners. Captain Lascelles at 
once jumped on the parapet, and followed by the remainder of his 
company, twelve men only, rushed across under very heavy machine- 
gun fire and drove over sixty of the enemy back, thereby saving a 
most critical situation. 

He was untiring in reorganizing the position, but shortly 
afterwards the enemy again attacked and captured the trench and 
Captain Lascelles, who escaped later. The remarkable determina- 
tion and gallantry of this officer in the course of operations, during 
which he received two further wounds, afforded an inspiring example 
to all. 

Captain Oswald Austin Reid, 2nd Battalion, Liverpool Regiment, 
attached 6th Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. 

At DiALAH River, Mesopotamia, on March 8-10, 1917. For 
most conspicuous bravery in the face of desperate circumstances. 
By his dauntless courage and gallant leadership he was able to 
consolidate a small post with the advanced troops, on the opposite 
side of a river to the main body, after his lines of communication 
had been cut by the sinking of the pontoons. 

He maintained this position for thirty hours against constant 
attacks by bombs, machine-gun and shell fire, with the full know- 
ledge that repeated attempts at relief had failed, and that his 
ammunition was all but exhausted. It was greatly due to his 
tenacity that the passage of the river was effected on the following 
night. During the operations he was wounded. 

Major (Acting Lieutenant-Colonel) John Sherwood-Kelly, 
C.M.G., D.S.O., Norfolk Regiment, Commanding ist Bat- 
taUon, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. 
At Marcoing, France, on November 20, 1917. For most con- 
spicuous bravery and fearless leading, when a party of men of 
another unit detailed to cover the passage of the canal by his bat- 
talion were held up on the near side of the canal by heavy rifle fire 
directed on the bridge. Lieutenant -Colonel Sherwood-Kelly at 
once ordered covering fire, personally led the leading company of 


his battalion across the canal, and, after crossing, reconnoitred 
under heavy rifle and machine-gun fire the high ground held by the 

The left flank of his battaUon, advancing to the assault of this 
objective, was held up by a thick belt of wire, whereupon he crossed 
to that flank and with a Lewis-gun team forced his way under heavy 
fire through obstacles, got the gun into position on the far side, and 
covered the advance of his battalion through the wire, thereby 
enabUng them to capture the position. 

Later, he personally led a charge against some pits from which 
a heavy fire was being directed on his men, captured the pits, 
together with five machine guns and forty-six prisoners, and killed 
a large number of the enemy. 

The great gallantry displayed by this officer throughout the 
day inspired the greatest confidence in his men, and it was mainly 
due to his example and devotion to duty that his battaUon was 
enabled to capture and hold their objective. 

Captain (Acting Lieutenant - Colonel) Richard Annesley 
West, D.S.O., M.C., late North Irish Horse (Cavalry Special 
Reserve) and Tank Corps. 

At CouRCELLES and Vaulx-Vraucourt, France, on August 21, 
1918, and September 2, 1918. For most conspicuous bravery, 
leadership, and self-sacrifice. During an attack, the infantry 
having lost their bearings in the dense fog, this officer at once col- 
lected and reorganized any men he could find and led them to their 
objective in face of heavy machine-gun fire. Throughout the whole 
action he displayed the most utter disregard of danger, and the 
capture of the objective was in a great part due to his initiative 
and gallantry. 

On a subsequent occasion it was intended that a battalion of 
light Tanks, under the command of this officer, should exploit 
the initial infantry and heavy Tank attack. He therefore went 
forward in order to keep in touch with the progress of the battle, 
and arrived at the front line when the enemy were in process of 
deUvering a local counter-attack. The infantry battalion had 
suffered heavy officer casualties and its flanks were exposed. Reahz- 
ing that there was a danger of the battalion giving way, he at once 
rode out in front of them under extremely heavy machine-gun and 
rifle fire and rallied the men. 


In Spite of the fact that the enemy were close upon him, he took 
charge of the situation and detailed non-commissioned officers to 
replace officer casualties. He then rode up and down in front of 
them in face of certain death, encouraging the men and calling to 
them, " Stick it, men ! Show them fight ! and for God's sake put 
up a good fight ! " He fell riddled by machine-gun bullets. 

The magnificent bravery of this verj' gallant officer at the 
critical moment inspired the infantry to redoubled efforts, and the 
hostile attack was defeated. 


Lieutenant-Colonel G. HELBERT, C.B.E., 
Military Staff Officer, South African Expeditionary Force. 




The ranks shown were those held at the date of the bestowal of 
the different awards. 

Each asterisk denotes an additional mention. 


Faulds, No. 4073, Private W. F Infantry. 

Hewitt, No. 8162, Lance-Corporal W. H. . . Infantry. 

Lukin, Major-General Sir H. T Staff. 


Lukin, Brigadier-General H. T. . . . . Staff. 
Tanner, Brigadier-General W. E. C. , . • Staff. 


Dawson, Lieutenant-Colonel F. S Infantry. 

Jones, Lieutenant-Colonel F. A. . . . . Infantry. 

Pritchard, Colonel S. A. M S.A.N.L.C. 

Tanner, Lieutenant -Colonel W. E. C. . . . Infantry. 

Thackeray, Lieutenant-Colonel E. F. . . . Infantry. 

Thomson, Lieutenant-Colonel G. R. . . . S.A.M.C. 

Dawson, Brigadier-General F. S Staff. 



Baker, Major J. M Staff. 

Bennett, Major G. M Heavy Artillery. 

Blew, Lieutenant-Colonel T. H Heavy Artillery. 

Brydon, Major W Heavy Artillery. 

Bunce, Captain H Infantry. 

Christian, Lieutenant-Colonel E Infantry. 

Cochran, Major F. E Infantry. 

Collins, Lieutenant-Colonel F. R S. A. Engineers. 

Currie, Lieutenant J Heavy Artillery. 

Dawson, Brigadier-General F. S Staff. 

Edwards, Major S. B Heavy Artillery. 

Forbes, Lieutenant E. C Infantry. 

Greene, Captain L Infantry. 

Hands, Major P. A. M Heavy Artillery. 

Harrison, Major H. C Heavy Artillery. 

Harrison, Major N Signal Coy 

Heal, Lieutenant-Colonel F. H Infantry. 

Heenan, Major C. R Infantry. 

Hemming, Major H. S. J. L Infantry. 

Jacobs, Captain L. M Infantry. 

Jenkins, Lieutenant-Colonel H. H Infantry. 

Maasdorp, Major L. H Heavy Artillery. 

MacLeod, Lieutenant-Colonel D. M. . . . Infantry. 

Mullins, Major A. G Heavy Artillery. 

Murray, Major C. M S.A.M.C. 

Ormiston, Major T Infantry. 

Power, Major M. S S.A.M.C. 

Pringle, Lieutenant-Colonel R. N S.A.M.C. 

Sprenger, Captain L. F Infantry. 

Tanner, Lieutenant-Colonel W. E. C. . . . Infantry. 

Thackeray, Lieutenant-Colonel E. F. . . . Infantry. 

Tomlinson, Captain L. W Infantry. 

Tripp, Major W. H. L Heavy Artillery. 

Ward, Lieutenant-Colonel A. B S.A.M.C. 

Ward, Major C. P. • . • Heavy Artillery. 


C.B.E. (Military Division). 

Anderson, Lieutenant-Colonel J. D. . . . Cape Aux. Horse 


Baker, Lieutenant -Colonel J. M Staff. 

Duff, Colonel C. de V General List. 

Helbert, Lieutenant-Colonel G. G Staff. 

Stock, Colonel P. G S.A.M.C. 

Thornton, Lieutenant-Colonel E, N. . . . S.A.M.C. 

O.B.E. (Military Division). 

Baker, Major H. C S.A.M.C. 

Balfour, Lieutenant-Colonel H. H S.A.M.C. 

Bamford, Lieutenant-Colonel H. W. M. . . Infantry. 

Bowles, Captain E General List. 

Cameron, Captain and Quartermaster C. S. . S.A.N.L.C. 

Collins, Captain F S. A. Engineers. 

Deane, Major R Infantry. 

Emmett, Lieutenant-Colonel J. J. C. . . . S.A.N.L.C. 

Fawcus, Lieutenant-Colonel A S.A.N.L.C. 

Geddes, Captain W. L S.A.N.L.C. 

Green, Major J. A Staff. 

Harris, Major J. J. F Infantry. 

Jacobsby, Lieutenant-Colonel J S.A.N.L.C. 

Jenner, Major L. W Cape Aux. Horse 


Knight, Acting Major R. C General List. 

Lennox, Captain and Chaplain J S.A.N.L.C. 

Long, Captain W Cape Aux. Horse 


MarshaU, Captain H. E. ...... C.C.L.C. 

Mills, Major H. P Infantry. 

Pearson, Major M. G. . S.A.M.C. 

Pepper, Major A. L Staff. 

Rann, Major A. E Heavy Artillery. 

Rigby, Major J. C. A S.A.M.C. 

Ross, Captain F. M Signal Coy. 

Sandes, Major T. L S.A.M.C. 


Sproule, Major H C.C.L.R. 

Thornton, Lieutenant-Colonel E. N. . . . S.A.M.C. 

Usmar, Lieutenant-Colonel G. H. '. . . . S.A.M.C. 

Wakefield, Major H. S General List. 

M.B.E. (Military Division). 

Balfour, Lieutenant-Colonel H. H S.A.M.C. 

Bowles, Captain E . S. A. Pay Corps. 

Coghlan, Captain G. S S.A.M.C. 

Deane, Major R Infantry. 

Ellis, Lieutenant N. N. . . . . . . . S. A. Pay Corps. 

Jamieson, Captain E. C. K S. A. Pay Corps. 

Kimberley, No. 17409, Reg. Sergt. -Major H. . S.A.M.C. 

Knibbs, Lieutenant A. R Staff. 

Legge, Captain E. A Infantry. 

Rann, Major A. E Heavy Artillery. 

Sandes, Major T. L S.A.M.C. 

Tucker, Captain W. E Infantry. 

Walker, Captain E. B Infantry. 

Walker, No. X235, Staff Sergeant-Major J. H. . Staff. 

Whyte, Captain J. E. S.A.N.L.C. 


Green, Lieutenant G. G . Infantry. 

King, Captain W. L Infantry. 

Lawrie, Captain M. B S.A.M.C. 

Morrison, Lieutenant R. E Infantry. 

Neille, Lieutenant P. C Infantry. 

Phillips, Second-Lieutenant S. G Infantry. 

Ridley, Captain E. G Heavy Artillery. 

Roffe, Captain T Infantry. 

Smith, Captain W S.A.M.C. 

Ward, Captain A. E Infantry. 



Allen, Second-Lieutenant V. W Infantry. 

Backeberg, Second-Lieutenant H. W. . . . Infantry. 

Bailey, Lieutenant H . Heavy Artillery. 

Bamford, Captain H. W. M Infantry. 

Begbie, Major R. P. G Heavy Artillery. 

Begley, Lieutenant E. R Infantry. 

Beverley, Lieutenant R Infantry. 

Beyers, Captain G. A . . S.A.M.C. 

Boustead, Second-Lieutenant H Infantry. 

Bower, Second-Lieutenant E. W Heavy Artillery. 

Browne, Captain CM Infantry. 

Burgess, Captain E. J Infantry. 

Burton, Second-Lieutenant F. W. S. . . . Infantry. 

Carding, Lieutenant W. H Infantry. 

Cawood, Second-Lieutenant R. C. . . . . Infantry. 

Charlton, Captain W. D Infantry. 

Cohen, Lieutenant M Signal Coy. 

Collins, Second-Lieutenant F Signal Coy. 

Connock, Second-Lieutenant CO Infantry. 

Covernton, Lieutenant R. H Signal Coy. 

Cragg, Second-Lieutenant J. C Infantry. 

Crooks, Lieutenant A. S Infantry. 

Culverwell, Second-Lieutenant D Heavy Artillery. 

Davies, Captain E. A Infantry. 

Dickson, Second-Lieutenant E. G. H. . . . Infantry. 

Dingwall, Captain J. A . Signal Coy. 

Dobson, Lieutenant F. L Signal Coy. 

Duminy, Second-Lieutenant F. J. van H. . . Heavy Artillery. 

Elias, Lieutenant D. H Infantry. 

Ellis, Captain P. H . . . Infantry. 

English, Second-Lieutenant F. H Infantry. 

FitzGeorge, Lieutenant F. S. L Signal Coy. 

Forbes, Captain A. G S.A.M.C. 

Forbes, Lieutenant L. H Infantry. 

Goodwin, Lieutenant B. W Infantry. 

Gray, Lieutenant S. E. G Infantry. 

Green, Lieutenant A. P Heavy Artillery. 

(2,097) 28 


Green, Second-Lieutenant G. G Infantry. 

Greene, Captain L Infantry. 

Hallack, Lieutenant M. H Infantry. 

Hands, Captain P. A. M Heavy Artillery. 

Harris, Captain and Chaplain H S. A. Chap. Dept. 

Harris, Second-Lieutenant W. E Infantry. 

Hat chard, Second-Lieutenant F. H. F. . . Infantry. 

Heeley, Lieutenant H. N Infantry. 

Hennessy, Second-Lieutenant B. P. . . . Infantry. 

Hewat, Second-Lieutenant R. D Infantry. 

Hill, Captain and Chaplain E. St. C. . . . S. A. Chap. Dept. 

Hill, Lieutenant J. L Signal Coy. 

Humphrey, Captain J. T Infantry. 

Ingarfield, Lieutenant G. P Infantry. 

Jack, Lieutenant J Signal Coy. 

Keith, No. 2300, Reg. Sergt.-Major P. . . Infantry. 

Kilpin, Second-Lieutenant T Heavy Artillery. 

King, Second-Lieutenant W. L Infantry. 

Kirby, Second-Lieutenant W. H Infantry. 

Kirkham, Captain G. H Infantry. 

Lawrence, Captain H. R S.A.M.C. 

Lawrie, Captain M. B S.A.M.C. 

Leighton, Second-Lieutenant G. A. . . . Infantry. 

Lewell, Second-Lieutenant E Infantry. 

Liebson, Captain S S.A.M.C. 

Lunn, Captain W. S Heavy Artillery. 

Maasdorp, Lieutenant A Heavy Artillery. 

Macfarlane, Lieutenant B. N Infantry. 

MacFie, Second-Lieutenant T. G Infantry. 

Mackie, Second-Lieutenant D. C Infantry. 

Maddison, Lieutenant E. A. J Heavy Artillery. 

Marshall, Captain R. B Infantry. 

Martin, Second-Lieutenant H. A Infantry. 

M'Donald, Captain A. W. H Infantry. 

M'Gregor, Major A. M Heavy Artillery. 

M'Intosh, Second-Lieutenant R Infantry. 

M'Lean, Lieutenant W Infantry. 

Mellish, Lieutenant F. W Heavy Artillery. 

Meredith, No. 5755, Reg. Sergt.-Major G. . . Infantry. 

Methven, Second-Lieutenant N. W. . . . Infantry. 


Middleton, Lieutenant E Infantry. 

Miller, Second-Lieutenant R. S Heavy Artillery. 

Mitchell, Captain F. McE Infantry. 

Money, Lieutenant A. G Infantry. 

Morrison, Second-Lieutenant R. E. ... Infantry. 

Murray, Second-Lieutenant A. S Heavy Artillery. 

Neille, Second-Lieutenant P. C Infantry. 

Nicholson, Lieutenant C. F. S Infantry. 

Page, Second-Lieutenant P. T. A Heavy Artillery. 

Pentz, Second-Lieutenant H. F Infantry. 

Pepper, Captain A. L Staff. 

Perrem, Second-Lieutenant C. H Infantry. 

Peters, Second-Lieutenant J Infantry. 

Phillips, Second-Lieutenant E. J Infantry. 

PhilHps, Second-Lieutenant S. G Infantry. 

Poole, Lieutenant R. P Signal Coy. 

Pougnet, Second-Lieutenant V. N Infantry. 

Rann, Captain A. E Heavy Artillery. 

Reid, Captain E. L S.A.M.C. 

Ridley, Captain E. G Heavy Artillery. 

Roberts, Second-Lieutenant C. W Infantry. 

Roddy, Captain G . Infantry. 

Roffe, Captain T Infantry. 

Roper, Captain A. W. F Heavy Artillery. 

Rose-Innes, Second-Lieutenant F. G. . . . Heavy Artillery. 

Ross, Captain F. H Infantry. 

Ross, Captain F. M Signal Coy. 

Rushforth, Lieutenant A. H Heavy Artillery. 

Sampson, Captain B S.A.M.C. 

Saphir, Second-Lieutenant M Infantry. 

Scheepers, Second-Lieutenant J. C. . . . Infantry. 

Shenton, Lieutenant J. L. . . . . . . Infantry. 

Smith, Captain W S.A.M.C. 

Sprenger, Captain L. F Infantry. 

Solomon, Lieutenant A. C Heavy Artillery. 

Stapleton, Lieutenant P. R Infantry. 

Stewart, Lieutenant J. G Heavy Artillery. 

Style, Captain S. W. E Infantry. 

Sumner, Lieutenant H. L Infantry. 

Symons, Captain T. H Infantry. 


Thomas, Second-Lieutenant W. F. G. . . Infantry. 

Thorburn, Lieutenant W Infantry. 

Unwin, Captain H. W Heavy Artillery. 

Van Ryneveld, Second-Lieutenant T. V. . . Infantry. 

Vincent, Lieutenant S. C Infantry. 

Vivian, Captain E. V Infantry. 

Walker, Captain E. B Infantry. 

Walsh, Second-Lieutenant F. G Infantry. 

Walshe, Captain and Chaplain P. J. . . . S. A. Chap. Dept. 

Ward, Lieutenant A. E Infantry. 

Wardill, No. 907, Batt. Sergt. -Major A. J. . Heavy Artillery. 

Wells, No. 6i6'3, Reg. Sergt.-Major R.. . . Infantry. 

Welsh, Captain T S.A.M.C. 

Whales, Second-Lieutenant G Heavy Artillery. 

Whelan, Second-Lieutenant M. E Infantry. 

Wilson, No. 5266, Reg. Sergt.-Major J. . . Infantry. 

Wood, No. 6386, Company Sergeant-Major J. . Infantry. 



Bester, Nursing-Sister H. L. 
Creagh, Matron E. R. . . 
Fynn, Nursing-Sister M. A. 
Purcell, Matron A. M. . . 
Wessels, Nursing-Sister E. S. 

Q.A.I.M.N.S. (Res.) 


Barber, Nursing-Sister M. E S.A.M.N.S. 

Blake, Nursing-Sister E. C S.A.M.N.S. 

Campbell, Nursing-Sister M. H S.A.M.N.S. 

Conyngham, Nursing-Sister A. B S.A.M.N.S. 

Francis, Staff-Nurse G. E S.A.M.N.S. 

Goulden, Nursing-Sister K S.A.M.N.S. 

Loosemore, Nursing-Sister A. H. M. . . . S.A.M.N.S. 

Redpath, Staff-Nurse V. M S.A.M.N.S. 


Ross, Nursing-Sister K S.A.M.N.S. 

Tilney, Nursing-Sister M. E S.A.M.N.S. 

Wagstaff, Staff-Nurse B S.A.M.N.S. 



Green, Major J. A Staff. 

Pearson, Major M. G S.A.M.C. 

Purcell, Major (Temp. Col.) J. F., D.S.O. . Infantry. 

Sandes, Major T. L S.A.M.C. 


I Jamieson, Major E. C. K S. A. Pay Corps. 


Alexander, No. 2471, Sergeant C. G. . . . Infantry. 

Beckman, No. 4768, Sergeant G. H. W. . . Infantry. 

Bell, No. 4699, Company Sergeant-Major F. . Infantry. 

Borland, No. 6016, Reg. Sergt. -Major J. C. . Signal Company. 

Brown, No. 5258, Company Sergeant-Major D. Infantry. 

Cawthorn, No. 5573, Lance-Corporal W. . . Infantry. 

Chapman, No. 689, Corporal R. L Heavy Artillery. 

Craig, No. 902, Corporal J Infantry. 

Dacombe, No. 5099, Batt. Sergt. -Major S. G. . Heavy Artillery. 

Davis, No. 9996, Battery Sergeant-Major W. . Heavy Artillery. 

Dewar, No. 31 10, Corporal W. R Infantry. 

Dollery, No. 700, Gunner R. N Heavy Artillery. 

England, No. 3558, Sergeant W. J. ... Infantry . 

Fernie, No. 2658, Sergeant G. S Infantry. 

Fisher, No. 5664, Sergeant M. H Infantry. 

Govan, No. 972, Private F. G Infantry. 

Guest, No. 5913, Sergeant W Heavy Artillery. 

Healey, No. 1106, Private W Infantry. 

Hean, No. 11511, Corporal D. McK. . . . Infantry. 

Hilson, No. 2179, Sergeant J. C Infantry. 


Hodges, No. 469, Sergeant E. C 

Hogarth, No. 13004, Sergeant F 

Hope, No. 5293, Private C. J 

Home, No. S6, Lance-Corporal F. C. . . . 
Howells, No. loio, Sergeant W. K. . . . 

Hughes, No. 572, Bombardier F 

Hurr, No. 571, Sergeant B. F 

Hut chins. No. 6165, Sergeant F. G. . . . 
Ison, No. 3161, Coy. Q.M. -Sergeant C. H. 
Jordan, No. 8431, Coy. Sergeant-Major A. J. . 
Keit, No. 4916, Coy. Sergeant-Major M. W. . 
Keith, No. 2300, Company Sergeant-Major P. 
King, No. 5540, Reg. Q.M.-Sergeant M. . . 
King, No. 3782, Coy. Sergeant-Major W. L. . 
Lilford, No. 920, Lance-Corporal A. F. 

Loubser, No. 4152, Private A. J 

Mack, No. 15543, Sergeant J. G 

Mallett, No. 5575, Sergeant H. F. P. . . . 
Marshall, No. 2834, Sergeant G. E. . . . 

Meyer, No. 2299, Sergeant J. W 

Mundy, No. 9175, Sergeant P 

Naisby, No. 1813, Sergeant J 

Prebble, No. 348, Coy. Sergeant-Major E. E. . 
Rodgers, No. 6612, Coy. Sergeant-Major A. F. . 
Rynhoud, No. 12781, Lance-Corporal F. A. . 
Schroeder, No. 10907, Sergeant A. E. . 
Shapcott, No. 4914, Lance-Corporal H. . 

Sinclair, No. 509, Sergeant W. N 

Smith, No. 4087, Sergeant A 

Spence, No. S4, Sergeant F. H 

Stafford, No. 9089, Private T 

Starke, No. 834, Corporal S. J 

Stewart, No. 713, Lance-Sergeant T. T. . 

Stuart, No. 7389, Corporal W 

Tanner, No. 1607, Private G. G 

Thomson, No. 3058, Coy. Sergeant-Major J. M. 

Townes, No. 5241, Private L. A 

Tye, No. 362, Sergeant R. C 

Vlok, No. 429, Private N. J 

Walsh, No. 216, Staff-Sergeant L. H. . . . 

Heavy Artillery. 




Heavy Artillery. 

Heavy Artillery. 

Heavy Artillery. 


Signal Company. 



















Heavy Artillery. 










Heavy Artillery. 





Warman, No. 50, Batt. Sergeant-Ma j or H. G. . Heavy Artillery. 

Watson, No. 1546, Sergeant J Heavy Artillery. 

Wellensky, No. X633, Private B Infantry. 

Wilkie, No. 3657, Company Sergeant -Major F. Infantry. 


Black, No. 3309, Sergeant A. J Infantry. 

Cawthorn, No. 5573, Lance-Corporal W. . . Infantry. 

Cole, No. 8334, Private H. J Infantry. 

Cox, No. 588, Corporal H. F Infantry. 

Edgar, No. 68, Sergeant C. W. E S.A.M.C. 

Evans, No. S2, Corporal S. D Infantry. 

Flack, No. 2024, Corporal C Infantry. 

Hoaston, No. 6286, Corporal A Infantry. 

Lang, No. 13287, Corporal B. G Infantry. 

Langlands, No. 5032, Private W. G. . . . Infantry. 

MacLachlan, No. 2302, Corporal G. H. . . Infantry. 

M'Gregor, No. 498, Lance-Sergeant D. . . Infantry. 

PuUen, No. 823, Gunner C. E Heavy Artillery. 

St. George, No. 10599, Private R. T. . . . Infantry. 

Stober, No. S20, Lance-Corporal F. . , . Infantry. 

Willcocks, No. 4979, Corporal W Infantry. 



Adlam, No. 4618, Private C. E. 
Allen, No. 7018, Sergeant T. H. 
Allen, No. 5471, Private V. W. , 
Anderson, No. 441, Bombardier H. 
Arnold, No. 5925, Private C. M. 
Aupias, No. 2422, Private F. G. 
Badcoe, No. 550, Sergeant T. J. 
Bain, No. X282, Sergeant C. S.. 
Baker, No. 893, Private G. F. . 
Baker, No. 4798, Private G. T. . 
Ballantyne, No. 5329, Lance-Corporal A. 
Ballot, No. 1181, Gunner D. W. F. E.. 
Baragwanath, No. 7958, Private A. J. 




Heavy Artillery. 




Signal Company. 



Signal Company. 

Heavy Artillery. 



Barrable, No. 2436, Lance-Sergeant E. M. V. Infantry. 

Bayman, No. 3853, Private W Infantry. 

Becker, No. 16871, Private L. D Infantry. 

Bell, No. 4250, Sergeant T Infantry. 

Benson, No. 3871, Sergeant R. H S.A.M.C. 

Bertram, No. 9016, Corporal F. S. ... Infantry. 

Bester, No. 16897, Private C Infantry. 

Bettison, No. 1251, Gunner CM Heavy Artillery. 

Biccard, No. 1326, Private R. C Infantry. 

Biebuyck, No. 2915, Lance-Corporal M. F. . Signal Company. 

Black, No. 3309, Lance-Corporal A. J. . . Infantry. 

Black, No. 26, Sergeant S. C S.A.M.C. 

Boden, No. 12, Private T. H S.A.M.C. 

Borchers, No. 14586, Private O Infantry. 

Botha, No. 8548, Private C Infantry. 

Botterill, No. 4865, Corporal H Infantry. 

Bowen, No. 76, Corporal E. J Infantry. 

Bowley, No. 2025, Corporal D. D. H. . . . Infantry. 

Brampton, No. 8505, Sergeant T. C. . . . Infantry. 

Brand, No. 533, Bombardier T. J. ... Heavy Artillery. 

Brickhill, No. 5570, Coy. Sergt. -Major F. H. . Infantry. 

Broussow, No. 6896, Private E. J. ... Infantry. 

Brown, No. 10557, Sergeant N. F. ... Heavy Artillery. 

Burgess, No. 265, Gunner S Heavy Artillery. 

Butler, No. 1831, Sergeant J. D. A. . . . Infantry. 

Cabrita, No. 133, Lance-Corporal W. M. . . Engineers. 

Calder, No. 3252, Corporal K Infantry. 

Carlson, No. 5170, Private W. . . . . . Infantry. 

Carter, No. 536, Lance-Corporal E. . , . Infantry. 

Casey, No. 3464, Corporal T. P Infantry. 

Cawthorn, No. 5573, Lance-Corporal W. . . Infantry. 

Celliers, No. 7379, Private J. D Infantry. 

Christie, No. 697, Gunner J Heavy Artillery. 

Church, No. 2498, Sergeant J Infantry. 

Clarke, No. 629, Gunner A. D Heavy Artillery. 

Clarke, No. 9572, Private W. W Infantry. 

Cleverley, No. 3821, Private F Infantry. 

Cloete, No. 1826, Lance-Corporal S. B. . . Infantry. 

Coaton, No. 1303, Gunner W. H. . . . . Heavy Artillery. 

Codd, No. 1 1434, Corporal E. W. . . . . Infantry. 


Coetzee, No. 12073, Private A. J. P. . . . Infantry. 

Coetzee, No. 14633, Lance-Corporal J. D. . . Infantry. 

Cole, No. 8334, Private H. J Infantry. 

Collins, No. 769, Sapper H. P Engineers. 

Collins, No. 9040, Private R. M Infantry. 

CoUocott, No. 4269, Sergeant CD. ... Infantry. 

Conacher, No. 16232, Private A. J. ... Infantry. 

Conradie, No. 32, Private J. A S.A.M.C. 

Cook, No. 427, Private T Infantry. 

Coomber, No. 5303, Sergeant E. L. ... Infantry. 

Cooper, No. 9226, Private C Infantry. 

Cosser, No. X568, Gunner S. C. A. ... Heavy Artillery. 

Cox, No. 588, Corporal H. F Infantry. 

Cragg, No. 698, Lance-Corporal J. B. . . . Infantry. 

Croft, No. 8625, Private J. B Infantry. 

Cronje, No. 2290, Private J. J Infantry. 

Cummings, No. 4503, Sergeant A Infantry. 

Cunningham, No. 923, Lance-Sergeant J. J. . Infantry. 

Cuthill, No. X290, Sapper J. D Signal Company. 

Davenport, No. 54, Lance-Corporal J. . . . Engineers. 

Davies, No. 192, Gunner W. A. .... Heavy Artillery. 

Davies, No. 12354, Private W. J Infantry. 

Davis, No. 2022, Corporal C. S Infantry. 

Davis, No. 423, Corporal W. J Heavy Artillery. 

Dawson, No. 228, Lance-Corporal A. E. . . Engineers. 

Dawson, No. 16888, Sergeant J. E. . . . Infantry. 

De Beer, No. 13451, Private W. A. . . . Infantry. 

Dent, No. 13263, Corporal H. C Infantry. 

Dey, No. 12783, Private H Infantry. 

Dickson, No. 611, Corporal J Heavy Artillery. 

Dignon, No. 10336, Private H. A Infantry. 

Dinnes, No. 3240, Lance-Corporal J. . . . Infantry. 

Dixon, No. 3488, Lance-Corporal C. . . . Infantry. 

Doig, No. 197, Sapper E. H Engineers. 

Dowaithe, No. 3100, Private R Infantry. 

Doyle, No. 669, Sapper J. R. . . . . . Engineers. 

Duffy, No. 709, Gunner J Heavy Artillery. 

Duncan, No. 1579, Private R Infantry. 

Dunstone, No. 1186, Private S. T. . . . Infantry. 

Du Preez, No. 5636, Private F. J Infantry. 


Du Toit, No. 3882, Private J. J Infantry. 

Edgar, No. 68, Sergeant C. W S.A.M.C. 

Edgar, No. 15959, Private H. M. S. . . . Infantry. 

Egan, No. 6514, Sapper CD Signal Company. 

Ellis, No. 1356, Gunner A. W. J Heavy Artillery. 

Ellis, No. 11522, Private G. W. J Infantry. 

EUwood, No. 7062, Private W. B. M. . . . Infantry. 

Erlank, No. X613, Private G Infantry. 

Estment, No. 4787, Lance-Corporal A. . . Infantry. 

Evans, No. 3185, Sergeant J. A Infantry. 

Evans, No. S2, Lance-Corporal S. D. . . , Infantry. 

Fairburn, No. 112, Lance-Corporal G. . . Infantry. 

Farmer, No. 17744, Private E. F. C. . , . Infantry. 

Fennessy, No. 90, Private C. E Infantry. 

Ferreira, No. X297, Sapper B. P Signal Company. 

Flack, No. 2024, Private C Infantry. 

Flanagan, No. 546, Lance-Corporal W. N. . Infantry. 

Flannagan, No. 17182, Lance-Corporal W. M. Infantry. 

Foden, No. 8451, Corporal G. W Infantry. 

Forbes, No. 2175, Private J Infantry. 

Forman, No. 2177, Lance-Sergeant J. L. . . Infantry. 

Fourie, No. 624, Sapper J. J Engineers. 

Fritz, No. 6407, Private E. H Infantry. 

Gardiner, No. 7628, Sergeant T. H. . . . Infantry. 

Gardner, No. X727, Private E. H Infantry. 

Garland, No. 3241, Lance-Corporal F. L. . . Infantry. 

Gaskon, No. 8130, Corporal A. H Infantry. 

Gaston, No. 11342, Lance-Corporal J. A. . . Infantry. 

Gerber, No. 6155, Sergeant H. J Infantry. 

Gibson, No. 8523, Private P. A Infantry. 

Giles, No. 1064, Gunner E. H Heavy Artillery. 

Glennie, No. 15130, Private S. A Infantry. 

Goldsworthy, No. 8455, Private F Infantry. 

Goodwill, No. 3865, Corporal H. P. . . . S.A.M.C. 

Gourlay, No. 6210, Lance-Corporal J. H. . . Signal Company. 

Graham, No. 14829, Private C. F Infantry. 

Granger, No. 4418, Private J. L Infantry. 

Gray, No. 425, Private A Infantry. 

Gray, No. 591, Corporal W. A Infantry. 

Green, No. 9672, Lance-Corporal G. P. . . Signal Company. 


Greenhough, No. 6346, Corporal P. R. . . Infantry. 

Greenish, No. 8752, Lance-Corporal M. T. . Infantry. 

Grenfell, No. 8970, Private G. A Infantry. 

Guerini, No. 6874, Corporal V Infantry. 

Hall, No. 3351, Private J Infantry. 

Hamilton, No. R1783, Private B. B. . . . Infantry. 

Hammond, No. 6310, Corporal L. H. . . . Signal Company. 

Hands, No, 9626, Sergeant C Infantry. 

Hansen, No. 6213, Sergeant W Signal Company. 

Hansen, No. X149, Gunner W. C Heavy Artillery. 

Hardwick, No. 7065, Sergeant R. E. S. . . Infantry. 

Hare, No. 888, Private H. L Infantry. 

Harris, No. 5027, Private W. F Infantry. 

Harris, No. 5687, Lance-Corporal W. S. . . Infantry. 

Harrison, No. 3458, Private R. W. ... Infantry. 

Hart, No. 4278, Lance-Corporal G. A. . . . Infantry. 

Hawke, No. 2955, Sergeant W. C Infantry. 

Hawkins, No. 1004, Private C. W. ... Infantry. 

Hawthorne, No. 7368, Lance-Corporal J. . . Infantry. 

Healy, No. 7785, Private P. W Infantry. 

Heathcote, No. 880, Lance-Corporal L. S. . Infantry. 

Hein, No. 466, Gunner B Heavy Artillery. 

Hemmings, No. 749, Gunner W Heavy Artillery. 

Hendry, No. 54, Sergeant A Heavy Artillery. 

Henning, No. 9468, Corporal J. A Infantry. 

Heunis, No. R1769, Sergeant C. M. ... Infantry. 

Hincks, No. X154, Sergeant H. T Heavy Artillery. 

Hinwood, No. 128, Sergeant S. J Infantry. 

Hoaston, No. 6286, Corporal A Infantry. 

Hodgson, No. 793, Private J Infantry. 

Holborn, No. X15, Sergeant J. S Infantry. 

Holdsworth, No. 4476, Private W Infantry. 

Holiday, No. 906, Private T. H. . . . . Infantry. 

Hollenbury, No. 5726, Private W Infantry. 

HoUiday, No. 12768, Private M. A. . . . Infantry. 

Hollington, No. 5381, Private E. E. . . . Infantry. 

Holmes, No. 4399, Private R. J Infantry. 

Hook, No. 746, Private T. C Infantry. 

Hopkins, No. 1785, Gunner D. A. J. . . . Heavy Artillery. 

Hosking, No. 14070, Private J. F Infantry. 


Howard, No. 16253, Private C. L Infantry. 

Howard, No. X121, Bombardier H. W. . . Heavy Artillery. 

Hugo-Brunt, No. 196, Gunner H Heavy Artillery. 

Hume, No. 4855, Private D. M Infantry. 

Humphries, No. 8573, Private W Infantry. 

Hunter, No. 259, Sergeant W. F Engineers. 

Huntley, No. 12798, Private W. B. . . . Infantry. 

Hurd, No. 15058, Private H. K Infantry. 

Huskisson, No. 100, Sergeant D. S. . . . S.A.M.C. 

Ind, No. 8484, Private H. G Infantry. 

Inglis, No. 15436, Lance-Corporal W. B. . . Infantry. 

Jackson, No. 4825, Sapper V. D Signal Company. 

Jacobs, No. 123, Private C. J S.A.M.C. 

James, No. 5956, Sergeant W. N Infantry. 

Johnson, No. 1358, Private J Infantry. 

Jones, No. 10162, Corporal A Infantry. 

Jones, No. 583, Lance-Corporal A Engineers. 

Jones, No. 8861, Private P. D Infantry. 

Jordan, No. 5088, Private M. . . . . . Infantry. 

Jorgensen, No. 527, Sergeant W. H. . . . Signal Company. 

Juul, No. 10624, Sergeant A. W Infantry. 

Keates, No. 150, Lance-Corporal F. J. . . Engineers. 

Kerwin, No. 15150, Private A. T. K. . • . Infantry. 

Kikillas, No. 1592, Private T. N Heavy Artillery. 

Kirkland, No. 125, Private F. G S.A.M.C. 

Kirkland, No. X286, Corporal J Signal Company. 

Kretschmer, No. 12216, Lance-Corporal H. F. Infantry. 

Kriel, No. 2965, Sergeant J Infantry. 

Kruger, No. 8449, Private P. S Infantry. 

Lagerstroom, No. 5211, Lance-Sergeant J. . Infantry. 

Laidler, No. 7606, Lance-Sergeant J. . . . Infantry. 

Lang, No. 13287, Private B. G Infantry. 

Langlands, No. 5032, Private W. G. . . . Infantry. 

Laverack, No. 4706, Sergeant A Infantry. 

Lawrence, No. 11941, Private R. J. . . . Infantry. 

Lazarus, No. 7843, Private C. M Infantry. 

Lee, No. 16767, Lance-Corporal F. E. . . Infantry. 

Lee, No. 10130, Corporal J Infantry. 

Lees, No. X233, Gunner J. S Heavy Artillery. 

Leith, No. 295, Gunner G. B. A Heavy Artillery 


Lerche, No. 16796, Private H. F. . . . 
Levey, No. 16114, Private H. G. . , . 

Levinson, No. 2656, Private L 

Liebenberg, No. 1707, Private B. J. . 

Lotz, No. 14169, Private J. C 

Loubser, No. 1138, Lance-Corporal J. J. . 
Lowe, No. 12481, Private C. V. ... 

Lowings, No. 22, Private B. A 

Lubbe, No. 4920, Private G. J. J. . . , 
Lubbie, No. 1266, Corporal T. A. . . . 

Lumb, No. 651, Sapper F 

MacDonald, No. 8591, Sergeant D. . . 
MacGuire, No. 3304, Private J. N.. . . 
Macintosh, No. 4691, Private A. G. M. . 
Mackay, No. 10415, Private W. . . . 

Mackay, No. 12432, Private D 

MacLachlan, No. 2302, Private G. H. . 
Magnussen, No. 453, Private M. A. . . 
Makepeace, No. 4106, Private R. B. N. . 

Maloney, No. 3760, Private W 

Manzie, No. 13533, Private A. J. . . . 
Marshall, No. X305, Lance-Corporal C. E. 

Martin, No. 8473, Private A 

May, No. 3614, Private G. H 

M'Clelland, No. 6852, Lance-Corporal J. . 
M'Donald, No. 6845, Sergeant W. S. . . 
M'Donald, No. 13351, Private C. A. . . 
M'Dougall, No. Xiii, Gunner J. S. . . 
M'Gregor, No. 498, Lance-Sergeant D. 
M'Innes, No. 6462, Sergeant N. . . . 
M'Kendrick, No. 159, Lance-Corporal M. . 
M'Kenna, No. 157, Lance-Corporal J. P. . 
M'Kenzie, No. 14203, Private A. C. . . 
M'Lean, No. 7069, Lance-Sergeant D. 
M'Lellan, No. 6987, Sergeant A. W. . . 

M'Millan, No. 4074, Private J 

Meggy, No. 761, Lance-Corporal R. S. 
Messum, No. 1600, Gunner G. G. . 
Meyers, No. 6571, Private L. C. C. . . . 
Milella, No. 8346, Sergeant O. A. . . . 




















Signal Company. 

Signal Company. 



Heavy Artillery. 








Heavy Artillery. 




Miller, No. 3479, Sergeant D. H. C. . . . Infantry, 

Mills, No. 1281, Corporal S. G Infantry. 

Mitchell, No. 6291, Lance-Corporal G. F. . . Infantry. 

Mitchell, No. 8453, Private T Infantry. 

Monoran, No. 1356, Private F. G Infantry. 

Moore, No. 7814, Sergeant C. V Infantry. 

Moreton, No. 2898, Corporal H. B. . . . Signal Company. 

Munro, No. 300, Gunner G. W Heavy Artillery. 

Munro, No. 8928, Private H. W Infantry. 

Murray, No. 6067, Corporal J. W Infantry. 

Nelson, No. 161, Private R. W S.A.M.C. 

Nicholl, No. X124, Gunner G Heavy Artillery. 

NichoUs, No. 5444, Sergeant H Infantry. 

NichoUs, No. 1941, Sergeant T. H Infantry. 

Nicholson, No. 2418, Private L Infantry. 

Nicolle, No. 4817, Corporal J Signal Company. 

Noble, No. 3198, Corporal C. A Infantry. 

Noble, No. 1458, Lance-Corporal J. E. T. . Infantry. 

Norvall, No. 6415, Sergeant W. A Infantry. 

O'Boyle, No. 16, Gunner L. N Hea^^y Artillery. 

O'Connor, No. 3886, Lance-Corporal C. J. . Signal Company. 

Oliver, No. 5291, Corporal S Infantry. 

Oosthuizen, No. 10386, Private W. J. J. . . Infantry. 

Orsmond, No. 16703, Lance-Corporal S. . . Infantry. 

Owen, No. 7102, Corporal A. E Infantry. 

Paddock, No. 9082, Private J. R Infantry. 

Page, No. 7032, Corporal R. ..... Infantry. 

Page, No. 1591, Corporal S. A Signal Company. 

Pains, No. 590, Gunner J. F Heavy Artillery. 

Parfitt, No. 165, Private F. W S.A.M.C. 

Parfitt, No. 145, Lance-Corporal W. H. . . Engineers. 

Parker, No. 118, Sergeant E. H. . . . . Heavy Artillery. 

Parkinson, No. 1512, Lance-Corporal J. G. . Infantry. 

Patience, No. 12998, Private J Infantry. 

Pat on. No. 211, Gunner R Heavy Artillery. 

Patterson, No. 3140, Sergeant W Infantry. 

Pownall, No. 3863, Driver C S.A.M.C. 

Peacock, No. 827, Bombardier E. M. . , . Heavy Artillery. 

Pearce, No. 172, Private H. S S.A.M.C. 

Pearce, No. 8182, Private W. C Infantry. 


Pentz, No. 10516, Lance-Corporal H. F. . . Infantry. 

Perrett, No. 614, Sergeant W. J. . . . . Heavy Artillery. 

Perrie, No. 705, Lance-Corporal J Infantry. 

Prentice, No. 5097, Private W Infantry. 

Preston, No. 17806, Lance-Corporal S. . . Infantry. 

Price, No. 84, Corporal S Heavy Artillery. 

Pringle, No. 6617, Private G. G Infantry. 

Pritchard, No. 17620, Private E. E. . . . Infantry. 

Pullen, No. 823, Gunner C. E Heavy Artillery. 

Raats, No. 11230, Private P. J Infantry. 

Reece, No. 704, Corporal A. O Engineers. 

Reingold, No. 8446, Lance-Corporal J. . . Infantry. 

Rennie, No. 5827, Private A Infantry. 

Reynolds, No. 12281, Sergeant G. J. . . . Infantry. 

Rhodin, No. 12739, Private W. H Infantry. 

Richardson, No. 7961, Lance-Corporal J. . . Infantry. 

Richardson, No. 7955, Private T. L. . . . Infantry. 

Ritchie, No. 5762, Private F Infantry. 

Robertson, No. 5250, Sergeant F Infantry. 

Robinson, No. 409, Corporal H. E. B. . . . Heavy Artillery. 

Rodgers, No. X295, Sapper H. C Signal Company. 

Ross, No. 1534, Lance-Corporal F. W. . . Infantry. 

Ross, No. 841, Gunner W. T. W Heavy Artillery. 

Rowley, No. 9013, Sergeant E Infantry. 

Rundle, No. 15860, Private S. P Infantry. 

Ryder, No. 3114, Corporal A Infantry. 

St. George, No. 5599, Private J. C. ... Infantry. 

St. George, No. 10599, Private R. T. . . . Infantry. 

Salsbury, No. 869, Corporal E Heavy Artillery. 

Scholes, No. 213, Bombardier C. E. . . . Heavy Artillery. 

Schultz, No. 1 1904, Private H Infantry. 

Schuur, No. 544, Gunner H. M Heavy Artillery. 

Scott, No. 10114, Lance-Corporal R. C. . . Infantry. 
Seddon, No. 4725, Lance-Corporal L. J. . . Infantry. 
Shapcott, No. 1971, Lance-Corporal F. R. . Infantry, 
Sharman, No. 522, Coy. Sergt.-Major W. . . Engineers. 

Shearer, No. 10437, Sergeant J Infantry. 

Shepherd, No. 6479, Sapper J Signal Company. 

Sheppherd, No. 7491, Private G. S. . . . Infantry. 
Sherman, No. 423, Private H. J Infantry. 


Simpson, No. 7703, Sergeant J. N Infantry. 

Sinclair, No. 509, Sergeant W. N. . . . . Heavy Artillery. 

Sjoberg, No. 373, Private A. B. . . . . Infantry. 

Slade, No. X302, Bombardier A. J. . . . Heavy Artillery. 

Smith, No. 979, Sergeant A Infantry. 

Smith, No. 4087, Sergeant A Infantry. 

Smith, No. 7217, Private A. W. C Infantry. 

Smith, No. 6796, Sergeant H. C Infantry. 

Smuts, No. 582, Private M. R Infantry. 

Snibbe, No. 9742, Sergeant M. J. . . . . Infantry. 

Sobey, No. 81 16, Private W. N Infantry. 

Somerville, No. 2291, Corporal W. ... Infantry. 

Spangenberg, No. 10074, Private J. M. . . Infantry. 

Speed, No. 4683, Lance-Corporal T. H. . . Infantry. 

Spencer, No. 8032, Private J. G. A. . . . Infantry. 

Sprague, No. 15663, Private H. G. R. . . Infantry. 

Stafford, No. 9089, Sergeant T Infantry. 

Steele, No. ^"j^j, Bombardier G Heavy Artillery. 

Steele, No. 1905, Private H Infantry. 

Stephen, No. 1052, Lance-Sergeant R. G.. . Infantry. 

Stephen, No. 616, Bombardier W Heavy Artillery. 

Stewart, No. 713, Lance-Sergeant T. T. . . Infantry. 

Stewart, No. 2037, Private W. A Infantry. 

Still, No. 13, Sergeant J. F Infantry. 

Stober, No. 20, Lance-Corporal F Infantry. 

Strickland, No. 4959, Lance-Corporal G. C. . Infantry. 

Sumner, No. 3677, Corporal H. L Infantry. 

Super, No. 451, Private E. S S.A.M.C. 

Surman, No. 9537, Corporal M. W. ... Infantry. 

Sutherland, No. 2542, Corporal N. ... Infantry. 

Suttie, No. 3811, Private L. H Infantry. 

Swan, No. 9351, Private V. E Infantry. 

Swanepoel, No. 16823, Private J. J. F. . . Infantry. 

Swaraston, No. 50, Sergeant H. D. . . . Engineers. 

Swart, No. 14796, Private J. J. L. ... Infantry. 

Symonds, No. 10661, Sergeant J Infantry. 

Tanner, No. loi, Lance-Corporal A. D. . . Engineers. 

Tasker, No. 631, Gunner G. T. B Heavy Artillery. 

Taylor, No. 6285, Private H. M Infantry. 

Taylor, No. X24, Corporal J. H Infantry. 


Taylor, No. 886, Sergeant O Heavy Artillery. 

Taylor, No. 2581, Corporal W Infantry. 

Tennant, No. 8064, Sergeant J. R Infantry. 

Thomas, No. 9335, Private CD Infantry. 

Thompson, No. 160, Private B Infantry. 

Thompson, No. 7747, Sergeant D Infantry. 

Thompson, No. 11114, Private J Infantry. 

Thompson, No. 290, Sergeant W. G. . . . Infantry. 

Thomson, No. 6586, Private A Infantry. 

Thomson, No. 5871, Lance-Corporal A. R. . Infantry. 

Thorpe, No. 5835, Corporal H. S Infantry. 

Thow, No. 212, Private J. M S.A.M.C. 

Thurgood, No. 9092, Sergeant A. H. . . . Infantry. 

Thurman, No. 416, Bombardier E. G. . . Heavy Artillery. 

Tomsett, No. 213, Private R S.A.M.C. 

Topp, No. 885, Gunner R. M Heavy Artillery. 

Tregonning, No. 890, Gunner W. J. . . . Heavy Artillery. 

Trehoeven, No. 8711, Private W. H. . . . Infantry. 

Tucker, No. 205, Private S S.A.M.C. 

Tuer, No. 4969, Sergeant J Infantry. 

TurnbuU, No. 3875, Driver D S.A.M.C. 

TurnbuU, No. 11, Bombardier J. M. M. . . Heavy Artillery. 

Twynham, No. 11928, Lance-Corporal W. C. . Infantry. 

Usborne, No. 7981, Batt. Sergt .-Major H. H. Heavy Artillery. 

Van Buuren, No. 10383, Sapper N. A. A. . Signal Company. 

Van Heerden, No. R1678, Lance-Cpl. J. L. . Infantry. 

Van Rensburg, No. 16820, Private P. . . . Infantry. 

Van Rensburg, No. 258, Sapper J. A. J. . . Engineers. 

Van der Walt, No. 11990, Private N. . . . Infantry. 

Vice, No. 51, Sergeant J. H. B Heavy Artillery. 

Vimpany, No. X193, Private A Infantry. 

Walker, No. 7455, Private J. . . . . . Infantry. 

Wall, No. 7701, Sergeant A. W. .... Infantry. 

Wanliss, No. 4197, Private J Infantry. 

Ward, No. 9511, Sergeant E Infantry. 

Waterhouse, No. 11935, Private J. . . . Infantry. 

Wattrus, No. 585, Bombardier C. E. . . . Heavy Artillery. 

Waugh, No. 11078, Private P Infantry. 

Wells, No. 11860, Sapper A Signal Company. 

Wentzel, No. 9704, Sapper E. J Signal Company. 

(2,097) 24 


Whillier, No. 16599, Private C. E Infantry. 

White, No. 10216, Private J. R Infantry. 

White, No. 4122, Sergeant W. M Infantry. 

Wilkins, No. R1473, Sergeant W. T. . . . Infantry. 

Willard, No. 7944, Private W. F Infantry. 

Willcocks, No. 4979, Corporal W Infantry. 

WilUams, No. 15300, Private A. R. . . . Infantry. 

Williams, No. 315, Bombardier C Heavy Artillery. 

Williams, No. 5752, Corporal G. W. . . . Infantry. 

Williams, No. 913, Staff-Sergeant W. . . . Heavy Artillery. 

Wood, No. 13123, Corporal T. C. P. . . . Infantry. 

Woolgar, No. 217, Private C. S S.A.M.C. 

Wright, No. 4116, Corporal A. J Infantry. 

Wright, No. 13860, Corporal C. H Infantry. 

Wright, No. 17091, Private G. F Infantry. 

Young, No. 5095, Sergeant J. J Infantry. 

Yuill, No. 652, Corporal A Engineers. 

Zahn, No. 7440, Sergeant F. S. T Infantry. 


Barends, No. 959, Lance-Corporal H. A. 
Bayne, No. 3346, Coy. Q.M.-Sergeant W 
Berry, No. 4554, Staff-Sergeant A. . . 
Blackwell, No. 266, Bombardier M. C. 
Bonacina, No. 6148, Sergeant L. . 
Bothwell, No. 5051, Sergeant -Major H 
Boyce, No. 3189, Sergeant D. R. . 
Brown, No. 3504, Sergeant J. . 
Burton, No. 5639, Lance-Corporal J. 
Burton, No. 6211, Sapper R. J. 
ButUn, No. 83, Reg. Q.M.-Sergeant H 
Clatworthy, No. HT4185, Coy. Sgt.-Maj 


Clews, No. 4, Company Sergeant-Major J. C. . 
Coombes, No. 3121, Sergeant A. S. . . . 
Craig, No. 1347, Reg. Sergt.-Major W. . . 
Cniickshank, No. 4812, Coy. Q.M.-Sergeant P. 
Dalton, No. 6334, Sergeant W. J 

Labour Corps. 
Heavy Artillery. 
Pay Corps. 
Signal Company. 
Signal Company. 
Labour Corps. 
Cape Aux. Horse 

Labour Corps. 
Signal Company. 
Signal Company. 


Evans, No. 4180, Sergeant W. D Infantry. 

Ferguson, No. 2004, Coy. Q.M. -Sergeant A. . Infantry. 

Field, No. 129, Sergeant W. C Labour Corps. 

Forsyth, No. X12, Sergeant J. R Infantry. 

Gadd, No. 167, Sergeant W. P Labour Corps. 

Glencross, No. 3120, Sergeant C. M. G. . . Infantry. 

Gonsalves, No. 5026, Coy. Q.M.-Sergt. M. A. . Infantry. 

Gordge, No. 80, Quartermaster-Sergeant J. H. S.A.M.C. 

Greenwood, No. 21654, Private J. H. . . . Infantry. 

Guy, No. 1361, Sergeant E. A Heavy Artillery. 

Hall, No. 5332, Sergeant P. C. W Signal Company. 

Hickman, No. 6294, Reg. Q.M.-Sergt. C. S. . Infantry. 

Holborn, No. X15, Corporal J. S Infantry. 

Horridge, No. 19322, Sergeant-Ma j or J. D. . Staff. 

Hudson, No. 2817, Sergeant-Major T. . . Infantry. 

Jamieson, No. X503, Staff-Sergeant T. C. . Labour Corps. 

Kenny, No. 2330, Staff-Sergeant P. . . . Infantry. 

Knox, No. 306, Quartermaster-Sergeant A. J. S.A.M.C. 

Lightfoot, No. 344, Staff-Sergeant R. . . . S.A.M.C. 

Lowe, No. 4700, Sergeant T. E Infantry. 

M'Callum, No. 3650, Sergeant J. A. . . . Signal Company. 

M'Dowell, No. 41, Reg. Sergt. -Major A. H. . Labour Corps. 

M'Farlane, No. 4317, Sergeant J Infantry. 

M'Feggans, No. 125, Colour-Sergeant A. . . Labour Corps. 

MTherson, No. 4011, Sergeant C Infantry. 

Melrose, No. 20, Superintendent-Clerk G. M. . Labour Corps. 

Orchard, No. 165, Coy. Q.M.-Sergeant A. O. . Labour Corps. 

Phillips, No. 11764, Corporal L. D. ... Infantry. 

Powell, No. X523, Staff-Sergeant H. E. . . Pay Corps. 

Reeves, No. 10585, Sergeant J. H Infantry. 

Rhind, No. 53, Company Sergeant-Major F. . Staff. 

Ritchie, No. 6658, Sergeant H Signal Company. 

Roxburgh, No. i, Reg. Sergt. -Major A. . . Labour Corps. 
Russell, No. 9110, Coy. Q.M. Sergt. E. E. R.. Infantry. 
Sayer, No. 3112, Colour-Sergeant A. . . . Infantry. 

Sheard, No. 3616, Sergeant O. F Signal Company. 

Shepherd, No. 4340, Coy. Sgt. -Major D. D. . Infantry. 
Sowden, No. 4716, Sergeant C. H. V. . . . Signal Company. 
Stanley, No. 75, Colour-Sergeant A. E. . . Labour Corps. 
Stearns, No. 2164, Private E Infantry. 


Stirton, No. V50, Sergeant-Ma j or S. A. . . Engineers. 

Stokell, No. 1929, Coy. Sergt .-Major E. R. . Infantry; 

Summers, No. 1046, Gunner H Heavy Artillery. 

Thompson, No. 160, Private B Infantry. 

Trimmer, No. 1375, Reg. Q.M.-Sergt. H. W. . Infantry. 

Truss, No. 955, Sergeant W. G Heavy Artillery. 

Walker, No. X235, Sergeant-Major J. H. . . Staff. 

Watson, No. 7546, Lance-Corporal W. . . Infantry. 

WeddeU, No. 425, StafE-Sergeant A. C. . . S.A.M.C. 

White, No. 408, Quartermaster-Sergeant J. H. S.A.M.C. 

White, No. 896, Bombardier T. W. . . . Heavy Artillery. 

Wilkinson, No. 910, Sergeant F Labour Corps. 

Williams, No. 5906, Sergeant A. E. . . . Infantry. 

Willson, No. 6393, Sergeant H. B. ... Signal Company. 

Wilson, No. HT2499, Coy. Sergt. -Major. H. J. Cape Aux. Horse 


Witney, No. 3536, Coy. Sergt.-Major. A. W. . Infantry. 

Woodhead, No. 3208, Sergeant H. C. . . . Infantry. 

Zeederberg, No. 85, Superintendent-Clerk H. . Labour Corps. 



AUin, Captain H. G. W Labour Corps. 

Alston, Lieutenant-Colonel C. W. . . . Heavy Artillery. 

Anderson, Lieutenant-Colonel J. D. . . Cape Aux. Horse 


Bailey, Lieutenant H Heavy Artillery. 

*Baker, Lieutenant-Colonel J. M. . . . Staff. 

Barnard, Major A. J. C Labour Corps. 

Bendlestein, Lieutenant A Heavy Artillery. 

*Bennett, Lieutenant-Colonel G. M. , . Heavy Artillery. 

Blaine, Captain C. H Heavy Artillery. 

Blew, Lieutenant-Colonel T. H. . . . Heavy Artillery. 

Bond, Lieutenant C. H Heavy Artillery. 

Brydon, Major W Heavy Artillery. 

Cameron, Q.M. and Hon. Captain C. S. . Labour Corps. 

Campion, Lieutenant R. R. . . . . Heavy Artillery. 

Chester, Second-Lieutenant R. S. , , , Heavy Artillery. 


Christian, Lieutenant-Colonel E. . . . Infantry. 

♦Cochran, Major F. E Infantry. 

CoUins, Lieutenant F Signal Company. 

♦Collins, Lieutenant-Colonel F. R. . . Engineers. 

Cooke, Lieutenant F. A Signal Company. 

Crooks, Q.M. and Hon. Lieutenant A. S. Infantry. 

Currie, Second-Lieutenant J Heavy Artillery. 

Davis, Captain F. M Infantry. 

♦♦♦♦Dawson, Brigadier-General F. S. . . . Staff. 

Dickerson, Captain F. J Labour Corps. 

Drummond, Captain J. ..... S.A.M.C. 

Duff, Colonel C. de V Labour Corps. 

♦Edwards, Major S. B Heavy Artillery. 

ElUs, Captain P. H Infantry. 

Emmett, Lieutenant-Colonel J. J. C. . . Labour Corps. 

Farmer, Lieutenant P. D Infantry. 

Farrell, Captain T Infantry. 

♦Fawcus, Lieutenant-Colonel A. . . . Labour Corps. 

♦Forbes, Lieutenant E. C Infantry. 

Geddes, Captain W. L Labour Corps. 

Goodwin, Second-Lieutenant B. W. . . Infantry. 

Gordon, Captain W. L S.A.M.C. 

Grady, Captain E. E. D Infantry. 

Green, Second-Lieutenant A. P. . . . Heavy Artillery. 

Greene, Captain L Infantry. 

♦Hands, Major P. A. M Heavy Artillery. 

Harris, Major J. J. F Infantry. 

Harrison, Lieutenant-Colonel N. . . . Signal Company. 

Heal, Lieutenant-Colonel F. H. . . . Infantry. 

Heenan, Major C. R Infantry. 

Hemming, Major H. S. J. L Infantry. 

Hill, Lieutenant W. J Infantry. 

♦Hunt, Major D. R. . . . . . . . Infantry. 

Hunt, Second-Lieutenant V. A. . . . Infantry. 

Ison, Lieutenant C. H Signal Company. 

Jackson, Captain J. W. . . . . . Infantry. 

Jacobs, Captain L. M Infantry. 

Jacobsby, Lieutenant-Colonel J. . . . Labour Corps. 

♦Jenkins, Lieutenant-Colonel H. H. . . Infantry. 

Johnson, Captain W. J. . . . . . Signal Company. 


Jones, Lieutenant-Colonel F. A. . , . Infantry. 

Joseph, Second-Lieutenant H. A. . . . Infantry. 

Kernick, Second-Lieutenant R. G. . . Infantry. 

King, Second-Lieutenant F Infantry. 

Lawrence, Second-Lieutenant G. G. J. . Infantry. 

Lawrence, Captain H. R S.A.M.C. 

Lawrie, Captain M. B S.A.M.C. 

*Lennox, Captain J Chaplains Dept. 

**Lukin, Major-General Sir H. T. . . . Staff. 

Maasdorp, Major L. H Heavy Artillery. 

MacLeod, Lieutenant-Colonel D. M. . . Infantry. 

Mallett, Lieutenant S Infantry. 

Marshall, Captain H. E Labour Corps. 

M'Lean, Lieutenant W Infantry. 

Medlicott, Second-Lieutenant G. H. . . Infantry. 

Mellish, Second-Lieutenant F. W. . . Heavy Artillery. 

Miller, Captain R. S Heavy Artillery. 

Mills, Second-Lieutenant F. E. . . . Infantry. 

*Mullins, Captain A. G. . . . . . . Heavy Artillery. 

MuUins, Major H. R S.A.M.C. 

♦Murray, Major CM S.A.M.C. 

Murray-M'Gregor, Lieutenant A. . . . Heavy Artillery. 

Ormiston, Major T Infantry. 

Owen, Captain J. W. W Chaplains Dept. 

♦Page, Lieutenant P. T. A Heavy Artillery. 

Palmer, Major J. E Labour Corps. 

Pickburn, Major W. H Heavy Artillery. 

♦Power, Major M. S S.A.M.C. 

Preston, Lieutenant W. G Labour Corps. 

♦Pringle, Major R. N S.A.M.C. 

♦Pritchard, Colonel S. A. M Labour Corps. 

Purcocks, Captain G. F Heavy Artillery. 

Pybus, Captain W. H. L Engineers. 

Rann, Major A. E Heavy Artillery. 

Richardson, Q.M. and Hon. Lieut. W. . S.A.M.C. 

Ridley, Captain E. G Heavy Artillery. 

Roberts, Second-Lieutenant C. W. . . Infantry. 

Roper, Captain A. W. F Heavy Artillery. 

Roseby, Lieutenant P. R Infantry. 

♦Ross, Captain F. M Signal Company. 


Ross-Garner, Lieutenant-Colonel C. R. J. Labour Corps. 

Scheepers, Captain J. C Infantry. 

Solomon, Lieutenant A. C Heavy Artillery. 

Sprenger, Major L. F Infantry. 

Sproule, Major H Labour Corps. 

Symmes, Major H. C Infantry. 

****Tanner, Brigadier-General W. E. C. . . Staff. 

Tarboton, Second-Lieutenant C. C. . . Infantry. 

Tatham, Second-Lieutenant E. V. . . Infantry. 

♦♦Thackeray, Lieutenant-Colonel E. F. . . Infantry. 

Theron, Captain F. H Infantry. 

Thomas, Second-Lieutenant W. F. G. . Infantry. 

♦Thomson, Lieutenant-Colonel G. R. . . S.A.M.C. 

Tomlinson, Captain L. W Infantry. 

Tripp, Major W. H. L Heavy Artillery. 

Unwin, SecoiH-Lieutenant H. W. . . Heavy Artillery. 

Usmar, Lieutenant-Colonel G. H. . . S.A.M.C. 

Van der Byl, Lieut. -Colonel V. A. W. . . Labour Corps. 

♦Van Ryneveld, Captain T. V Infantry. 

Wakefield, Major H. S Infantry. 

Walsh, Captain F. G Infantry. 

Ward, Lieutenant-Colonel A. B. . . , S.A.M.C. 

♦Ward, Major C. P Heavy Artillery. 

♦Williamson, Captain E Labour Corps. 

♦Wolff, Lieutenant-Colonel H. P. . . , Labour Corps. 


Bester, Nursing-Sister H. L. 
Brookshaw, Staff-Nurse F. 
Burgess, Nursing-Sister E. . 
Child, Assist ant -Matron J. C 
Conyngham, Nursing-Sister A. 
Creagh, Matron E. R. . . 
Dawson, Nursing-Sister L. . 
Freshney, Nursing-Sister F. H 
Gilson, Nursing-Sister M. A. 
Johnson, Nursing-Sister M. E. 
Kingon, Nursing-Sister H. A. 
♦Northard, Staff-Nurse C. A. 















Northard, Nursing-Sister M S.A.M.N.S. 

Thomson, Probationer Nurse D. M. . . S.A.M.N.S. 

Van Niekerk, Nursing-Sister D. N. K. . S.A.M.N.S. 

Waters, Nursing-Sister I. G S.A.M.N.S. 


Anderson, No. 271, Staff-Sergeant R. D.. S.A.M.C. 

Atwood, No. 12731, Sergeant E. E. . . Infantry. 

Bantjes, No. 4371, Private M. J. . . . Infantry. 

Barker, No. 3877, Private J. G. . . . Infantry. 

Beasley, No. 3855, Coy. Q.M.-Sergt. N. . Infantry. 

Bentley, No. 5846, Sergeant P. . . . Infantry. 

Blackie, No. 2878, Lance-Corporal F. T. . Signal Company. 

Borland, No. 6016, Coy. Sgt.-Major J. C. Signal Company. 

Brown, No. 49, Coy. Sergeant-Major J. . Labour Corps. 

Butler, No. 16, Colour Sergeant F. . . Labour Corps. 

Cullen, No. 2913, Lance-Cpl. R. V. V. . Signal Company. 

Cursley, No. 5811, Private F Infantry. 

Dalton, No. 6334, Sergeant W. J. . . Engineers. 

Davis, No. 1895, Sergeant J Infantry. 

Elliott, No. 382, Sergeant R. P. . . . Heavy Artillery. 

Emery, No. 17, Lance-Corporal E. H. . Infantry. 

Ewin, No. 2142, Sergeant E. F. . . . Infantry. 

Ferguson, No. 1580, Corporal J. . . . Heavy Artillery. 

Gattens, No. V35, Sergeant J. . . . Engineers. 

Gillholm, No. 59, Coy. Sergt. -Major H. P. Labour Corps. 

Gordge, No. 80, Q.M.-Sergeant J. H.. . S.A.M.C. 

Grant, No. 78, Sergeant J. A. F. . . . S.A.M.C. 

Hall, No. 3613, Coy. Sergeant -Major A. . Infantry. 

Hall, No. 5332, Sergeant P. C. W. . . Signal Company. 

Harrison, No. 289, Sergeant J. G. . . Heavy Artillery. 

Helfrick, No. 3977, Private W. . . . Infantry. 

Henderson, No. 5351, Sergeant W. . . Infantry. 

Hewitt, No. 141, Reg. Sgt.-Major W. H.. Labour Corps. 

Hopkins, No. 540, Staff-Sergeant C. . . Heavy Artillery. 

Hughes, No. 572, Gunner F Heavy Artillery. 

Hukins, No. 242, Colour Sergeant L. C. . Labour Corps. 

Hulett, No. 179, Coy. Sergt. -Major A. C. Labour Corps. 

Jessop, No. 107, Colour Sergeant W. H. . Labour Corps. 


Jones, No. 10951, Private W. E. . . . Infantry. 

Jorgensen, No. 527, Corporal W. H. . . Signal Company. 

Kenyon, No. 4807, Corporal A. J. . . Signal Company. 

Krige, No. 1067, Gunner P. H. . . . Heavy Artillery. 

Lee, No. 1491, Gunner F. L. F. . . . Heavy Artillery. 

Lenz, No. 388, Sergeant F Labour Corps. 

Lodge, No. 1838, Sergeant H. ... Infantry. 

Long, No. 1665, Lance-Corporal C. E. . Infantry. 

Lowe, No. 4700, Sergeant T. E. . . . Infantry. 

Loxton, No. 5620, Lance-Corporal C. . . Infantry. 

Mackay, No. 622, Batt. Q.M.-Sergeant A. Heavy Artillery. 

Magor, No. 282, Sergeant H. C. . . . Labour Corps. 

M'Conachie, No. 1933, Sergeant J. . . Infantry. 

Meredith, No. 5755, Reg. Sgt.-Major G. . Infantry. 

Morgan, No. 245, Private R. H. . . . Infantry. 

Munro, No. 3890, Corporal W. . . . Signal Company. 

NichoUs, No. 45, Reg. Q.M.-Sergt. G. R. F. Infantry. 

NicoUe, No. 4817, Corporal J. ... Signal Company. 

Northend, No. 5330, Corporal G. F. . . Signal Company. 

Parsley, No. 7728, Staff-Sergeant A. J. . Infantry. 

Perrett, No. 614, Sergeant W. J. . . . Heavy Artillery. 

Petters, No. 497, Sergeant A. T. . . . Heavy Artillery. 

Prebble, No. 348, Coy. Sergt.-Major E. E. Infantry. 

Price, No. 745, Sergeant F. W. . . . Labour Corps. 

Prior, No. 1998, Private E. C Infantry. 

Purcell, No. 6031, Lance-Corporal I. . . Signal Company. 

Ritchie, No. 6658, Sergeant H. J. . . Signal Company. 

Robey, No. 5275, Coy. Sergt.-Major J. E. Infantry. 

Rowe, No. 3655, Corporal H. J. . . . Engineers. 

Salsbury, No. 869, Gunner E. ... Heavy Artillery. 

Schoeman, No. 18, Private A. J. . . . Infantry. 

Schuring, No. 3550, Sergeant D. . . . Infantry. 

Sewell, No. 545, Sergeant-Ma j or W. E. . Heavy Artillery. 

Shaw, No. 2, Colour Sergeant R. G. . . Labour Corps. 

Skinner, No. 4146, Sergeant W. T. . . Infantry. 

Stidworthy, No. 8781, Sergeant G. A. . Infantry. 

Truss, No. 955, Sergeant W. G. . . . Heavy Artillery. 

*Van Hoof, No. 2893, Sergeant A. C. . . Signal Company. 

Vlok, No. 429, Private N. J Infantry. 

Walter, No. 9004, Corporal B. C. . . . Infantry. 


Wedderburn, No. 3188, Sergeant A. . . Infantry. 

Westley, No. 14561, Private L. F. C. . Infantry. 

Whitnall, No. 4280, Q.M.-Sergt. E. C. . Infantry. 

Wilson, No. 5266, Reg. Sergeant-Major J. Infantry. 

Beckman, No. 4768, Sergeant G. H. W. . Infantry. 

Dewar, No. 3110, Lance-Sergeant W. R. Infantry. 

Hilson, No. 2179, Sergeant J. C. . . . Infantry. 

Husband, No. 2146, Lance-Sgt. W. J. M. Infantry. 

King, No. 3782, Coy. Sergt. -Major W. L. Infantry. 



Ashmead, Lieutenant J. E. W. . . . Infantry. 

Balfour, Lieutenant-Colonel H. H. . . S.A.M.C. 

Bamford, Lieutenant-Colonel H. W. M. . Infantry. 

Byrne, Captain M. J Engineers. 

Chave, Lieutenant A. F Infantry. 

Covernton, Captain R. H. . . . . . Signal Company. 

Davison, Major G. L Labour Corps. 

Deane, Major R Infantry. 

EUis, Lieutenant N. N Pay Corps. 

Jamieson, Captain E. C. K Pay Corps. 

Knibbs, Lieutenant A. R Infantry. 

Legge, Captain E. A Infantry. 

Macdougal, Major I Infantry. 

Marillier, Second-Lieutenant F. L. . . Infantry. 

M'Cubbin, Captain J. S Infantry. 

Metelerkamp, Second-Lieutenant L. . . Infantry. 

Millar, Captain E. S Infantry. 

Mills, Major H. P Infantry. 

Money, Captain A. G Infantry. 

Montgomery, Captain H Infantry. 

Paxton, Captain A. L Infantry. 

Rae, Lieutenant N. E Infantry. 

Rigby, Major J. C. A S.A.M.C. 

Riley, Captain J. W Infantry. 

Thomson, Captain A. M Infantry. 

Tucker, Captain W. E Infantry. 


Young, Lieutenant-Colonel B Infantry. 

Walker, Major E. B Infantry. 

Whiting, Captain E Infantry. 

Whyte, Captain J. C Labour Corps. 



Adendorff, Staff-Nurse M. A S.A.M.N.S. 

Allen, Staff-Nurse P. W S.A.M.N.S. 

Aves, Staff-Nurse D S.A.M.N.S. 

Cloete, Probationer-Nurse R. F. . . . S.A.M.N.S. 

Donaldson, Nursing-Sister A. E. . . . S.A.M.N.S. 

Fraser-Wood, Nursing-Sister K. . . . Q.A.I.M.N.S.R. 

Pearson, Staff-Nurse E. M S.A.M.N.S. 

Thorn, Probationer-Nurse H S.A.M.N.S. 


Ardouin, No. 10758, Corporal W. . . Infantry. 

Augustus, No. 200, Q.M.-Sergeant I. S. . Pay Corps. 

Bailey, No. X558, Staff-Sergeant J. S. . Pay Corps. 

Bell, No. 4699, Coy. Sergeant-Major F. . Infantry. 

Blackmore, No. 8667, Corporal W. . . Infantry. 

Boam, No. 1918, Staff-Sergeant H. N. . Pay Corps. 

Bothwell, No. 5051, Staff-Sergeant H. . Pay Corps. 

Brampton, No. 8505, Sergeant T. C. . . Infantry. 

♦Bromehead, No. 2098, Sergeant E. C. . Infantry. 

Bruno, No. 2779, Corporal H. A. . . . Infantry. 

Buchanan, No. 5562, Sergeant D. K. . . Infantry. 

Burns, No. X661, Staff-Sergeant J. F. . Pay Corps. 

Burns, No. 8673, Sergeant W. R. . . Infantry. 

Burrage, No. 3144, Staff Q.M.-Sergt. F. L. Pay Corps. 

Church, No. 6298, Q.M.-Sergeant R. L. . Infantry. 

Cooper, No. 681 1, Sergeant W. P. . . Infantry. 

Coyne, No. X44, Sergeant W. B. M. . . Infantry. 

Craig, No. 1347, ^^g- Sergt.-Major W. . Infantry. 

Crocker, No. 4558, Sergeant W. T. H, . Infantry. 

Crowson, No. 6299, Q.M.-Sergeant E. . Infantry. 

Dagnin, No. 1623, Lance-Sergt. A. A. F. Infantry. 

Davenport, No. 6074, Reg. Sgt. -Major B. Infantry. 

♦Davidson, No. X19, Sergeant C. . . . Infantry. 


Driver, No. 8522, Sergeant E. M. . . Infantry. 

Easterbrook, No. 6262, Lance-Cpl. E. H. Infantry. 

Fearnhead, No. 400, Staff-Sergeant E. A. Pay Corps. 

Fletcher, No. 13834, Lance-Corporal C. A. Infantry. 

Foster, No. 11594, Sergeant W. M. . . Infantry. 

Fromant, No. 4893, C. Q.M.-Sgt. J. W. G. Infantry. 

*Furley, No. 1518, Sergeant E. H. . . . Infantry. 

Glencross, No. 3120, Sergeant C. M. G. . Infantry. 

Hall, No. 1474, Sergeant O. H. . . . Infantry. 

Harris, No. 1065, Sergeant E. W. . . . Heavy Artillery. 

♦Hickman, No. 6294, Reg. Q.M.-Sgt. C. S. Infantry. 

Hudson, No. 2817, Coy. Q.M.-Sergeant T. Infantry. 

Impellezzenie, No. 13957, Private G. A. . Infantry. 

Janion, No. 1058, Lance-Corporal J. R. . Infantry. 

Johnstone, No. 4456, C. Sgt.-Major C. E. Infantry. 

Kelly, No. X256, Staff-Sergeant G. . . Pay Corps. 

Levell, No. 787, Q.M.-Sergeant W. J. . Heavy Artillery 

♦Lightfoot, No. 344, Staff-Sergeant R. . S.A.M.C. 

Murgatroyd, No. 3207, Lance-Cpl. T. C. . Infantry. 

Newall, No. 478, Sergeant W. . . . S.A.M.C. 

Pauley, No. X255, Staff-Sergeant H. E. R. Pay Corps. 

Phillips, No. 2946, Staff-Sergeant D. T. . Infantry. 

Pool, No. 10093, Lance-Corporal W. . . Infantry. 

Popkiss, No. 3146, Staff Sergt.-Major R. J. Pay Corps. 

Pretorius, No. 6238, Corporal J. L. . . Infantry. 

♦Priest, No. 388, Sergeant-Major F. D. . S.A.M.C. 

Reid, No. 3315, Sergeant H Infantry. 

Rhind, No. 53, Sergeant F Staff. 

♦Rose, No. 414, Private R S.A.M.C. 

Rowley, No. 5883, Reg. Q.M.-Sergt. A. B. Infantry. 

Russell, No. 9110, Coy. Q.M.-Sergt. E. E. Infantry. 

Sayer, No. 3112, Sergeant A Infantry. 

Scherger, No. 5711, Corporal B. . . . Infantry. 

Shearer, No. 10077, Sergeant J. . . . Infantry. 

Sherman, No. 423, Corporal H. J. . . Infantry. 

Shires, No. 2212, Corporal A 'infantry. 

Sim, No. 11041, Lance-Corporal A. E. . Infantry. 

♦♦Smith, No. 315, Staff-Sergeant C. G. W. . S.A.M.C. 

Stead, No. 15343, Corporal F. H. . . Infantry. 

Swanby, No. X23, Stafi-Sergeant C. F. . S.A.M.C. 


Thomas, No. 639, Bombardier B. J. A. . Heavy Artillery. 

Tuck, No. 9122, Lance-Corporal F. G. . Infantry. 

*Walker, No. X235, Staff Sgt.-Major J. H. Staff. 

Walton, No. X522, Staff-Sergeant A. E. Pay Corps. 

Wasser, No. 2673, Private J Infantry. 

White, No. 403, Corporal H. W. S. . . S.A.M.C. 




Clunnie, No. 4080, Sergeant R. J Infantry. 

Edwards, Major S. B Heavy Artillery. 

Eraser, No. 6212, Corporal CM Signal Company. 

Glascock, No. 6317, Sergeant E. W. . . . Infantry. 

Goodwin, Second-Lieutenant B. W. . . . Infantry. 

Harrison, Major N Signal Company. 

Hunter, No. 1197, Private H. P Infantry. 

Maasdorp, Major L. H Heavy ArtiUery. 

Meredith, No. 5755, Reg. Sergeant-Major G. . Infantry. 

Nelson, No. 943, Sergeant T. D Heavy Artillery. 

Ross, Lieutenant F. M Signal Company. 

Smith, No. 4087, Sergeant A Infantry. 

Sowdon, No. 4716, Sergeant C. H. V. . . . Signal Company. 

Steele, No. 1905, Private H Infantry. 

Thackeray, Lieutenant-Colonel E. F. . . . Infantry. 

Wilkie, No. 3657, Coy. Sergeant-Major F. . . Infantry. 

Wilson, Lieutenant C. K Signal Company. 


Collins, Lieutenant-Colonel F. R Engineers. 


Davenport, No. 6074, Reg. Sergeant-Major B. Infantry. 

Hodges, No. 468, Bombardier T. E. . . . Heavy Artillery. 

Mann, No. 13298, Sergeant A Heavy Artillery 

Stevens, No. 7071, Private J. B Infantry. 


Little, Second-Lieutenant H. G Heavy Artillery. 


Clegg, No. X93, Corporal W. D Heavy Artillery. 

L'Estrange, No. X123, Bombardier G. E. F. . Heavy Artillery. 

Little, Second-Lieutenant H. G Heavy Artillery. 

Stiger, No. 968, Corporal W. T. M. . . . Heavy Artillery. 

Tanner, Brigadier-General W. E. C. . . . Staff. 

Truss, No. 955, Sergeant W. G Heavy Artillery. 


Tanner, Lieutenant-Colonel W. E. C. . . . Infantry. 
Truss, No. 955, Sergeant W. G Heavy Artillery, 


Gourlay, No. 6210, Sergeant J. H. . . . Signal Company. 
Page, No. 1591, Private S. A Signal Company. 


Charlton, Captain W. D Infantry. 

Shenton, Captain J. L Infantry. 

Unwin, Lieutenant H. W Heavy Artillery. 


Allison, No. 3554, Lance-Corporal C. J. . . Infantry. ' 
Knowles, No. 777, Gunner J. D Heavy Artillery. 



Christian, Lieutenant-Colonel E Infantry. 



Pepper, Captain A. L Staff. 



Wells, No. 563, Coy. Sergeant-Major F. W. . Infantry. 


Jenner, No. 3447, Lance-Corporal D. . . . Infantry. 


Hoy, No. 1469, Lance-Corporal J. D. . . . Infantry. 

Pringle, No. 4137, Private N Infantry. 

Tuer, No. 4969, Sergeant J Infantry. 


Bower, No. 4225, Private T Infantry. 

Hunter, No. 142, Private H. J Infantry. 



Medlicott, Captain R. F. C Infantry. 


Morgan, No. 245, Private R. H Infantry. 

Naisby, No. 181 3, Sergeant J Infantry. 




Lukin, Brigadier-General H. T Staff. 




Digby, Second-Lieutenant C. R Cape Aux. Horse 


Ha very, Lieutenant J.N Infantry. 


1. V.C . 2 

2. K.C.B I 

3- C.B. 2 

4. C.M.G 6 

5. Bar to D.S.O i 

6. D.S.O 35 

7. C.B.E. (Military Division) 6 

8. O.B.E. (Military Division) 29 

9. M.B.E. (Military Division) 15 

10. Bar to M.C 10 

11. M.C 134 

12. D.C.M 64 

13. Bar to M.M 16 

14. M.M 431 

15. M.S.M 75 

16. Royal Red Cross 16 

17. French Decorations 22 

18. Belgian Decorations ii 

19. Italian Decorations 5 

20. Serbian Decorations 9 

21. Montenegrin Decorations 3 

22. Roumanian Decorations 2 

23. Egyptian Decorations I 

24. Brevet Rank 5 

25. Mentioned in Despatches 218 

26. Mentioned in War Office Communiques . 107 




Aa, River, 196. 

Abbeville. See Hospital, S, Afri- 
can General. 

Abeele, 194. 

Addison, Sec. -Lieut. E. C, 214. 

Agagia, Battle of, 32-5. 

Ailette, River, 231. 

Ailly-sur-Somme, 47. 

Aisne,River, 106, 126, 128, 129,216. 

Aitken, Sec. -Lieut. A., 144. 

Albert, 189. 

Alexandria, 22, 26, 27, 41. 

Alim Tejdid, 38. 

AUenby, Field-Marshal Sir Ed- 
mund (Viscount Allenby), 103, 
113, 126. 

Alston, Major C. W., 20, 275. 

Alwyn Farm (Meter en), 222. 

American Armies in France, The, 
158, 217, 228, 230. 

Amiens, 194, 195, 214. 

Ancre, River, 50, 51, 87, 104. 

Anderson, Lieut.-Col. J. D., 337, 

339, 351. 
Anderson, Sec. -Lieut., 223. 
Arbre de Guise, 246. 
Armentieres, 45, 195. 
Armin, General Sixt von. See Sixt 

von Armin. 
Armistice, The, 255-6. 
Armoured cars, 30 ; at Agagia, 

33 ; in advance on Solium, 

36, 39. 40. 
Army, British — 

First, 83, 105, 113, 225, 231, 255. 

Second, 44, 134, 217, 231. 
Third, 85, 102, 104, 113, 159, 
161, 170, 177, 191, 230, 231, 

232, 233, 249. 

Fourth, 85, 90, 230, 231, 232, 

233, 249, 253, 255. 

Fifth, 88, 104, 132, 133, 134, 
135, 146, 159, 161, 170, 171, 
176, 177. 
Army, German — 
Fourth, 130, 196. 
Sixth, 151, 196. 
Arnold, Sec. -Lieut. L., 153. 
Arras, 49, 83, 88, 103, 104, 106, 
107, 108, 109, 110-12, 178, 
195, 218; Battle of, 115-126, 

258- __ 

Artillery, Heavy (South African), 
16, 19, 20, 21, 267-278. See 
also under Battery, Heavy Ar- 
tillery ; and Brigade, Heavy 

Artillery, Royal Garrison. See 
Artillery, Heavy. 

Artillery, Royal Marine, 19. 

Athies, 116. 

AthoU, Duchess of, 17 w. ; Duke 
of, 21. 

Aulad Ali tribes, 36. 

Australian Camel Corps, 36, 38. 

Australian Forces in France. See 
under Corps, British ; Divi- 
sion, British. 

Avelu, 235. 

Avesnes, 252. 




Bagbag, 37, 38. 

Bailleul, 44, 195, 203, 204, 205, 

206, 218. 
Baillon Farm, 246. 
Bain, Capt. J. T., 144. 
Baker, Lieut. -Col. J. Mitchell, 18, 

Baker, Private, 66. 
Bamford, Lieut.-Col. H. W. M., 
commands Composite Bat- 
talion, 209, 210 ; commands 
2nd Regiment, 225, 233. 
Bancroft, Lieut., 167, 175. 
Bannockburn, 114. 
Bapaume, 48, 50, 51, 60, 86, 87, 

109, 230. 
Barisis, 159. 

Barrani, 25, 32, 35, 36, 37. 
Basutoland, 19. 
Bate, Lieut., 59. 

Battery, Heavy Artillery (S. Afri- 
can) — 

yist, 20, 267, 269-70, 273. 

y2nd, 20, 267, 268, 275-6. 

73rd, 20, 267, 268-9. 

y4th, 20, 267, 268, 274-5. 

ySth, 20, 267, 268, 276-7. 

J25th, 267, 268, 271-2. 

4g6th, 267, 277. 

542nd, 267. 
Baudimont Gate (Arras), iii. 
Bavai, 252. 

Bazentin-le-Grand, 56. 
Bazentin-le-Petit, 56, 86. 
Bazuel, 241, 242, 247. 
Beaumont, 253. 
Beaurevoir, 231, 232, 234. 
Beauvois, 176. 
Beck House, 138. 
Begbie, Major R. P. G., 271, 272. 
Beit Hussein, 25. 
Below, General Otto von, 151. 
Bennett, Lieut.-Col. G. M., 274, 

Bernafay Wood, 48, 51, 52, 54, 

55> 56. 76, 77- 
Berthonval, 84. 
Bertry, 236, 237. 
Bethell, Maj.-Gen. H. K., 226, 

232, 238, 245, 248, 253, 254. 
Bethlehem Farm, 198, 200. 
Bethune, 195, 196, 217. 
Beugnies, 253. 

Beverley, Capt. R., 172, 184, 188. 
Beviss, Lieut., 167, 175. 
Beyers, General, 13. 
Billon Valley, 52. 
Bir Abdih, 32. 
Bir Asisa, 39. 
Bir-el-Augerin, 37, 38. 
Bir Shola, 27, 28, 29, 30, 
Bir Tunis, 26. 
Bir Warr, 39, 40. 
Birrell, Sec-Lieut., 234. 
Blacklock, Maj.-Gen., 211. 
Blanchard, Sec-Lieut. W. J., 

Blangy, iii. 
Blew, Lieut.-Col. T. H., 272, 273, 

Bliss, Lieut., 35. 
Boehn, General von, 228. 
Boesinghe, 132. 
Bois de Madame, 254. 
Bois de Martinsart, 256. 
Bond Street (Delville Wood), 61. 
Bony, 233. 
Borry Farm, 138. 
Bostin Farm, 141. 
Botha, General Louis, 13, 14, 15, 

18, 19, 193. 
Bouchavesnes, 177, 179, 180, 183, 

Bourlon, 151. 

Brahmin Bridge (Meteren), 222. 
Brandhoek, 134. 
Bray-sur-Somme, 51, 184, 189. 
Bremen Redoubt, 136, 141. 



Brigade, Heavy Artillery (S. Afri- 
can) — 

44th, 268, 269, 270, 272-4. 

50th, 268, 275, 276, 277-8. 
Brigade, Cavalry (British) — 

5th Cavalry, 253, 254. 

Canadian Cavalry, 237. 
Brigade, Infantry (British) — 

2nd Guards, 152. 

4th Guards, 205. 

8th, 147. 

loth, 123. 

2ist, 52, 53. 

26th, 44, 57, 59, 60, 64, 71, 84, 
91, 92, 98, 100, loi, 107, 108, 
116, 119, 123, 125, 135, 161, 
163, 189,207,208,211,218,221. 

27th, 44, 52, 54, 57, 58, 59, 65, 
67, 91, 103, 107, 116, 123, 

125 M., 126, 134, 135, 138, 139, 
144, 172, 177, 178, 180, 209, 
218, 221, 224. 

44th, 92. 

48th, 190. 

55th, 55- 

Syth, 198, 199, 203. 

58th, 198. 199. 

62nd, 208. 

6^//i, 208. 

yCth, 69, 70, 72. 

89th, 52. 

io8th, 201, 202, 203. 

ii6th, 158. 

J25^A, 137. 

j^js^ 85, 91. 

142nd, 85. 

I4gth, 244. 

J50/A, 246. 

J5js^ 244. 

J7^//i, 127. 

jp^/A, 226, 234, 235, 238, 241, 

iggth, 226, 234, 235, 238, 241, 254. 
1st Australian, 220. 

Brigade, Infantry (S. African), 11 ; 
inception of, 15 ; formation, 
16-19 ; arrival in England, 
21 ; ordered to Egypt, 22 ; 
Egyptian campaign of, 23- 
42 ; training in Flanders, 43- 
47 ; at Battle of Somme, 47- 
58 ; at Delville Wood, 48- 
82 ; in Vimy area, 83-85 ; 
at Butte de Warlencourt, 85- 
103 ; in Arras area, 103-115 ; 
at Battle of Arras, 1 15-122 ; 
in action at Roeux, 123-6 ; 
at Third Ypres. 128-147 ; 
return to the Somme, 15 1-5; 
memorial service at Del- 
ville Wood, 157-8 ; before 
German attack, 158-164 ; in 
the Somme Retreat, 165-180 ; 
the stand at Marrieres Wood, 
180-192 ; brigade re-formed, 
194 ; at Battle of the Lys, 
196-209 ; re-formed, 225 ; 
in advance on Le Cateau, 
232-9 ; capture of Le Ca- 
teau, 239-248 ; becomes ad- 
vanced guard, 253-5 .* at 
hour of armistice, 255-6 ; 
achievement of, 257-8 ; qual- 
ity and characteristics of, 
258-263 ; tributes to, 35, 78, 
126, 153, 157, 189-191, 193- 
194, 204, 205, 226, 248. See 
also under Regiments, South 
African ; Lukin ; Dawson ; 
Tanner; Raids; Casualties. 

Briqueterie Trench, 52, 53, 54. 

Brits, General, 13. 

Brook, Lieut. E. J., 234, 

Brown, Lieut. W. N., 53. 

Browne, Major, 138, 175. 

Brussilov, General, 48, 87. 

Bryant, Capt. E. C, 153. 



Brydon, Blajor Walter, 20, 268-9, 

272-3. 350- 
Buchanan Street (Del villa Wood), 

61, 63, 69. 
BuUecourt, 170. 
Bunce, Capt. H., 169, 174. 
Burges, Major E. T., 70, 79. 
Burgess, Capt., E. J., 59, 79, 175, 

189, 200, 353. 
Burrows, Lieut., 119, 121. 
Butte de Warlencourt, 89, 91 ; 

action at, 91-103. 
Byng, General the Hon. Sir Julian 

(Lord Byng), 113, 149, 151, 

159, 160, 170, 176, 189, 191, 

230, 231, 233, 235, 247, 249, 


Cadorna, General, 151. 

Caestre, 219. 

Cambrai, 109 ; Battle of, 149, 
151, 152 ; 230, 231, 233, 235, 

Campbell, Ma j. -Gen. David, 161. 

Campbell Street (Delville Wood), 

Campion, Lieut., 268, 269. 

Canal du Nord, 127, 230, 231. 

Candas, 194. 

Cape Auxiliary Horse Transport 
Companies, 337-340. 

Cape Province, The, 13, 16, 19, 20. 

Cape Town, 19. 

Caporetto, 151. 

Carency, 84. 

Carstens, Lieut., 200. 

Cassel, 218. 

Casualties (of Infantry Brigade), 
54 ; at Delville Wood, 74, 
79-82 ; at Butte de Warlen- 
court, 102 ; in early months 
of 191 7, 108 ; at Battle of 
Arras, 121 ; at Roeux, 125 ; 
at Third Ypres, 144 ; in 

winter 191 7-18, 155 ; during 
first days of Somme Retreat, 
175 ; at Messines, 205 ; at 
Meteren, 223 ; of Composite 
Battalion, 225 ; in Le Cateau 
operations, 248 ; total, 258. 
Cawood, Sec-Lieut. R. C, 255, 


Champagne, 160. 

Chantecler, 116. 

Chapel Crossing, 162. 

Chapel Hill, 162, 168, 169, 171, 

Charles, Maj.-Gen., 238. 

Chemical Works, The (Roeux), 123. 

Chimney Trench, 53. 

Christensen, Lieut., 200. 

Christian, Lieut.-Col. E,, 27, 84 n.; 
at Butte de Warlencourt, 91 ; 
at Arras, 117, 136 n. ; com- 
mands 2nd Regiment, 147, 
153 ; in Somme Retreat, 174, 
179, 186, 188; 350. 

Clapham Junction (Ypres), 133. 

Clarke, Lieut., 200. 

Clerk, Major, 175, 245. 

Clery, 179, 184. 

CHfford, Capt. H. E., 54. 

Cochrane, Major F. E., at Third 
Ypres, 136, 141, 143; in 
Somme Retreat, 173, 180, 
184 ; his death, 185, 188 ; 350. 

Cojeul, River, no. 

Cole, Lieut.-Col., 336. 

Collins, Lieut.-Col. F. R., 333-5, 

Collins, Capt. F., 298, 308, 313, 

314. 351, 353- 

Cologne, River, 176. 

Combles, 87, 184, 191. 

Composite Battalion, The, after 
Marrieres Wood, 189 ; after 
Messines, 209-214 ; in sum- 
mer of 1918, 216-225. 



Cond6, 252. 
Confusion Corner, 212. 
Congreve, Lieut. -Gen. Sir Walter, 
51, 58, 68, 152, 176, 177, 
Contalmaison, 51, 52, 90. 
Cooper, Lieut., 185. 
Cooper, Sec-Lieut. A. B., 144. 
Corbie, 47. 
Corps, Infantry (British) — 

IV., 83, 127. 

v., 134, 178, 232, 234, 342. 

VI., 103, 107, 112, 114, 121. 

VII., 114, 152, 176, 177, 225. 

IX., 196, 197, 204. 

XIIL, 51, 232, 235, 238, 241, 
242, 245, 246, 247, 248, 253. 

XVII., 107, 113, 121, 126. 

XVIIL, 146, 176. 

Australian, 189, 219, 231. 

Canadian, 87, 107, no, 113, 
118, 147, 230, 252, 255. 
Corps, Infantry (American) — 

II., 232, 238, 246. 
Corps, Infantry (French) — 

XX., 53. 
Corps, Infantry (German) — 

Guard Reserve, 87, 254. 

Bavarian Alpine, 206. 

5^^, 73. 

4ih, 72, 73, 130. 

5ih. 87. 

S4th, 240. 
Corsican, The, 27. 
Courcelette, 86, 87, 89. 
Cousolre, 256. 
Coxen, Lieut., 138, 144. 
Craig, Lieut. A. W., 66, 79. 
Crewe, Sir Charles, 16, 18. 
Croft, Lieut. -Col., his "Three 
Years with the 9th Division " 
quoted, 98 n., 156 n. 
Croisilles, 113, 116, 164. 
Crown Prince, The German, 45. 

Crozat Canal, The, 176. 
Cruddas, Lieut., 94, 144. 
Currie, Lieut. J., 268-9, 350. 

Dabaa, 25, 27 n. 

Dalrymple, Colonel W., 18. 

Davis, Capt. F. M., 144. 

Dawson, Brig.-Gen. F. S., ap- 
pointed to command ist Regi- 
ment, 18 ; at Agagia, 33 ; at 
Delville Wood, 66, 70-71 ; 
at Butte de Warlencourt, 96- 
loi ; commands S. African 
Brigade, 103 ; at Arras, 121 ; 
at Third Ypres, 134, 139, 143, 
145, 155 ; in Somme Re- 
treat, 167, 168, 169 n., 171, 
172, 177, 178, 179, 180, 181, 
182, 186, 187, 188, 190, 191 ; 

349. 350. 
Debeney, General, 231, 233, 235, 

247, 249. 
Delhi, Ridge of, 192. 
Delville Wood, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60 ; 

description of, 61 ; Battle of, 

61-82, 142 ; memorial service 

at, 157-8; 181, 258. 
Desinet Farm, 206, 208, 
Destremont Farm, 90. 
De Wet, General Christian, 13. 
Dickebusch, 209, 212. 
Dickenson, Sec. -Lieut. V, S., 153. 
Dingaan, 192. 
Dingwall, Capt. J. A., 297, 298, 

310, 314. 353. 
Division, Cavalry (British) — 

1st Cavalry, 188. 
Divif^'on, Infantry (British) — 

Giards, 87, 152, 153, 252. 

jsl , 142. 

2nd, 142, 178. 

3rd, 69, 72, 118, 147. 

4th, 114, 120, 122, 123, 125. 

gth, 44, 45, 51, 53, 56, 57, 64, 



67, 69, 83-5, 91-102, 103, 
107, 114, 116-26, 127, 134- 
47. 152, 158-64, 170-89, 196- 
211, 217, 220, 225, 226. 

I2th, 114, 118. 

14th, 73, 114, 118. 

15th, 85, 91, 92, 114, 118, 123. 

i6th, 22, 190, 

iSth, 55, 56, 64, 232, 248. 

jgth, 196, 197, 198, 199, 201, 

202, 203, 204, 206, 208, 209, 
2ist, 114, 161, 166, 168, 169, 

171, 172, 173, 178, 179, 180, 

183, 184, 208, 211, 212, 213. 
23yd, 91. 
25th, 196, 201, 202, 211, 212, 

213, 232, 238, 248. 
2gth, 205. 
30th, 47. 52 n., 53, 54, 114, 211, 

31st, 205. 
33yd, 204, 205. 
34th, 107, 113, 122, 201, 202, 

206, 208. 
35th, 107, 184, 186, 188. 
38th, 233. 

39th, 158, 211, 213. 
40th, 201. 
41st, 147. 

4yth, 85, 90, 91, 161, 178. 
48th, 146. 
4gth, 205, 208, 210, 211, 212, 

50th, 90, 232, 233, 242, 244, 246, 

51st, 18, 107, 113. 
55th, 135, 141, 143, 196, 201. 
56th, 114, 118. 
66th, 225, 231, 232-39, 241-8, 

I St Australian, 205. 
2nd Australian, 135. 
New Zealand, 87. 
Portuguese, 196. 

Division, Infantry (French) — 

39ih. 53. 
Division, Infantry (German) — 

2nd Guard Reserve, 141, 

6th Bavarian, 90. 

loth Bavarian, 62, 73. 

5th, 73. 

8th, 72, 73. 

lyth Reserve, 238. 
Doignies, 170. 
Doingt, 177. 
Dompierre, 253. 
Donaldson, Lieut., 94. 
Dorward, Lieut,, 121. 
Douai, no. 

Douglas, Sec-Lieut., 223. 
Douve, River, 196. 
Dranoutre, 212. 
Drocourt-Qu6ant Switch, The, 

109, 116, 121, 122, 230. 
Dublin Redoubt, 53 ; trench, 53. 
Duisans, 103. 
Dunkirk, 196. 

Dutch in South Africa, The, 15, 

Earl Farm, 199. 
East Africa, German. See Ger- 
man East Africa. 
Eaucourt I'Abbaye, 86, 90, 91. 
Edgar, Sergeant C. W., 145, 362. 
Egan, Lieut., 234. 
Egypt, Campaign of S. Africac 

Brigade in, 23-42. 
Elincourt, 235. 

Elliott, Lieut., 100, 10 1, 118, 119. 
Ellis, Capt. P. H., 118, 137. 
Emperor, The German, 191, 253. 
Engineers, The Royal, 117, 255. 

63rd Field Co., 220. 

64th Field Co., 51. 

430th Field Co., 253. 
Equancourt, 172, 176. 
Escaufourt, 237. 



Estaires, 201. 

Estill, Lieut., 95. 

Estment, Lance-Corporal A., 66, 

Estrees, 86. 

Fampoux, 116, 121, 123, 124, 176. 
Fanshawe, Lieut. -Gen. Sir E. A., 

134, 178. 
Farrell, Capt. T., 138, 207. 
Fatimite invasion of Egypt, The, 

Faulds, Sec-Lieut. W. F., 66, 

343. 349. 

Fennessy, Private C. E., 140, 362. 

Fergusson, Lieut. -Gen. Sir Charles, 
107, 113. 

Fernie, Sec. -Lieut., 234. 

Feuchy, 109. 

Field Ambulance, ist S. African, 
16, 20, 21 ; at Delville Wood, 
76, 77 ; at Arras, 122 ; at 
Fampoux, 125-6 ; at Third 
Ypres, 144-5, 225 ; at Le 
Cateau, 251-2. 

Fins, 154, 174. 

Fitzpatrick, Major P. N. G., 270. 

Flag Ravine, 152. 

Flers, 57, 65, 66, 70, 86, 87, 89, 

90, 93. 96. 
Flesquidres, 170. 
Fletre, 218, 219. 
Foch, Marshal, 194, 217, 224, 228, 

230, 231, 239, 252, 253, 254. 
Fonsommes, 231. 
Forder, Major C. J., 278. 
Forder, Sec-Lieut. W. G. S., 144. 
Forest, 238, 239. 
Fosse 8 (Loos), 44. 
Four Huns Farm, 199. 
Francis, Sec -Lieut., 234. 
Franks, Maj.-Gen., 184. 
Frelinghien, 196. 
Frevillers, 83, 84. 

Frezenberg, 136. 
Fricourt, 48. 
Frohbus, Sergeant, 139. 
Fruges, 152. 

Furse, Maj.-Gen. Sir W. T., 44, 
52, 58, 59. 67, 68, 69, 92, 103. 

Gaafer, 24, 25, 32, 33, 35. 

GaUipoli, 22. 

Gattignies Wood, 235, 236. 

Gauche Wood, 152, 162, 166, 168, 
170, 171, i8i. 

Gavrelle, 123. 

Gee, Major H. H., 80, 83 n. 

Gemmell, Capt. D., 138, 144. 

General Hospital, No. i S. Afri- 
can. See Hospital, General. 

Genin Well Copse, 168, 169, 171. 

German East Africa, 13, 14, 258, 

German Emperor, The. See Em- 
peror, The German. 

German South- West Africa, 13, 
14, 15, 19, 260. 

Gheluvelt, 133, 136, 140. 

Giddy, Sec-Lieut., 234. 

Ginchy, 57, 86, 87. 

Givenchy, 196, 201, 202 ; en 
Gohelle, 113. 

Glatz Redoubt, 52, 53, 55. 

Godfrey, Lieut., 121. 

Gommecourt, 50. 

Goodwin, Lieut. B. W., 108, 213, 

Gordon, Lieut.-Col. J. L. R., 28, 

Gorringe, Maj.-Gen. Sir G. F., 161. 
Gough, General Sir Hubert, 88, 

132, 134, 159, 160, 176, 177, 

179, 189, 191. 
Gouraud, General, 249, 250, 252, 

Gouzeaucourt, 152, 162, 163, 170, 



Government Farm, 179. 

Grady, Capt. E. C. D., 82, 118, 

Grandrieu, 254, 256. 
Gray, Lieut. S. E. G., 119, 243, 

Green, Capt. Garnet, 72, 80, 167- 

8, 173, 174, 353. 
Greene, Capt. L., 54, 80, 202, 350, 

Greenland Hill, 123, 126. 
Grenville, Sir Richard, 188. 
Grieve, Pipe-Major, 157. 
Griffiths, Lieut., 200. 
Grove Town, 51. 
Gueudecourt, 86, 88. 
Guillaumat, General, 231, 249, 

Guillemont, 57, 65, 86. 
Gunn, Sec. -Lieut., 234. 

Hadlow, Lieut., 167. 

Haig, Field-Marshal Sir Douglas 
(Earl Haig), 22 ; in spring 
of 191 6, 45-6, 47 ; at Battle 
of the Somme, 50, 52, 56, 
57, 78, 86, 87 ; his plans for 
1917, 104-107; reviews 
S. African Brigade, 108 ; 
at Battle of Arras, 1 09-1 11 ; 
strategy of Third Ypres, 
128-30, 133-4, 147 ' tribute 
at Delville Wood memorial 
service, 157 ; position at be- 
ginning of 191 8, 158-61 ; 
message to Botha, 193-4 ; at 
Battle of Lys, 195 ; verdict 
on fight of 13th April, 205 ; 
his order of nth April, 214- 
15 ; advance on Siegfried 
Line, 230-31 ; in the final 
stage, 235, 241, 247, 249, 250, 
251, 252. 

Halazin, Battle of, 28-30. 

Haldane,' Lieut. -Gen. Sir Aylmer, 

69, 103, 114. 
Halfaia Pass, The, 38. 
Hamage Farm, 234. 
Hamilton-Gordon, Lieut.-Gen. Sir 

A., 196, 204. 
Hands, Major P. A. M., 269, 273, 

350, 354. 
Hannebeek (Ypres), 136 n. 
Happy Valley, The, 72, 74, 78. 
Hardwich, Lieut., 121. 
Hargicourt, 170, 
Harp, The (Arras), 118. 
Harris, Lieut. W. E., 95, 354. 
Harrison, Major H. C., 20, 269, 

Harrison, Lieut.-Col. N., 279, 282, 
283, 290, 297, 298, 310, 313, 


Harvey, Lieut., 221. 

Haute- AUaines, 178. 

Havrincourt, 127. 

Hazebrouck, 195, 204, 206, 217, 

Heal, Lieut.-Col. F. H., takes 
command of 2nd Regiment, 
84 n. : of I St Regiment, 103 ; 
at Arras, 117; at Third 
Ypres, 136, 139, 140, 141, 
143; in Somme Retreat, 174, 
179 ; his death, 186, 188. 

Heavy Artillery. See Artillery, 

Hell Farm (Messines), 200, 202. 

Hem, 188. 

Hendry, Sec-Lieut. N. T., 144. 

Hengest, 83. 

Henin-sur-Cojeul, 176. 

Henry V., King, 48. 

Henry, Lieut., 59. 

Hermann Line, The, 240. 

Hestrud, 254, 255. 

Heudicourt, 154, 155, 158, 163, 
172. 173. 174. i«9. 



Heuringhem, 218. 

Hewat, Sec. -Lieut. R. D., 242, 

Hewitt, Sec. -Lieut. W. H., 143, 

345. 349. 

Highlanders, 77th (AthoU), 17 ; 
Cape Town, 16. 

High Wood, 56, 85, 94, loi, 102. 

Hill, Capt. the Rev. E. St. C, 77, 
80, 354. 

Hill, Lieut. R., 237. 

Hill 37 (Ypres), 141 ; 60 (Ypres), 
196, 211 ; 63 (Messines), 202. 

Hindenburg Line. See Siegfried 

Hinwood, Sergeant S. J., 234, 363. 

Hirson, 240, 249, 252. 

Hogg, Lieut., 208. 

Hohenzollern Redoubt, The, 44. 

Hollebeke, 197, 200, 202. 

Hondeghem, 218, 219, 221. 

Hong-Kong and Singapore Moun- 
tain Battery, The, 35, 36, 38. 

Honnechy, 235, 236, 237. 

Honours won by S. African Forces 
in France, 349-84. 

Hopgood, Lieut., 200. 

Hopoutre, 209, 211. 

Home, General Sir Henry (Lord 
Home), 113, 160, 231, 249, 
252, 255. 

Hospital, No. i S. African Gen- 
eral, 16, 21, 317, 318, 319, 

Hospital, S. African Military, 21, 
317, 319, 327-32. 

Houlle, 145. 

Humbert, General, 230. 

Hunt, Major D. R., 64, 84 n., 93. 

Hunt, Lieut. V. A., 121. 

Hunter, General Sir Archibald, 21. 

Hutier, General von, 151, 216. 

Hyde, Lieut., 119. 

Hyde Park Corner, 212. 

Hyderabad Redoubt, 121, 123, 

Infiltration, Method of, 150, 

Jack, Lieut. J., 303, 354. 
Jackson, Maj.-Gen., 242. 
Jacobs, Capt. L. M., 194, 199, 202, 

245, 350. 
Jeffreys, Maj.-Gen., 197, 204. 
Jenkins, Lieut.-Col. H. H., 97, 175, 

209, 225, 237, 254, 350. 
Jenner, Lieut., 189, 200. 
Joffre, Marshal, 45. 
Johannesburg, 18. 
Jones, Lieut.-Col. F, A., appointed 

to command 4th Regiment, 

15 ; death at Battle of the 

Somme, 55, 84 n. 

Keeley, Sec-Lieut., 223. 
Keith, Serg. -Major P., 184, 354, 

Kemmel, 203, 205, 206, 208, 210, 

211, 213, 217, 218. 
Kennedy, Brig.-Gen., 189. 
Kennedy, Lieut., 167. 
Khedival Highway, The, 24, 31, 36. 
Kimberley, 18. 
King, His Majesty the, visits the 

S. African Brigade, 84. 
King, Capt., 247. 
King Street (Delville Wood), 61. 
Kruisstraat Cabaret, 203, 204. 

La Bass^e, 195, 196, 203. 
La Clytte, 196, 197, 204, 211, 212. 
La Creche, 206. 
La Polka, 206, 208. 
La Sablonniere, 234. 
Lagnicourt, 170. 

Lambton, Maj.-Gen. the Hon. W., 
1x6, 120, 121, 123. 



Langdale, Capt., 98, 99, 100. 
Langeberg, 19. 
Langemarck, 133, 136, 140. 
Larisch, General von, 240. 
Larmuth, Capt. W. A., 200. 
Lassigny, 216. 
Lattre St. Quentin, 103. 
Laurent-Blangy, 116. 
Lausanne, Treaty of, 23. 
Lawe, River, 201, 202. 
Lawrence, Lieut., 139, 200. 
Lawrie, Capt. M. B., 77, 122, 145, 

352, 354- 
Lawson, Private J. A., quoted, 74-6. 
Le Cateau, 191, 235, 236, 237, 

238, 239, 241, 242, 246, 248, 

251 ; capture of, 258. 
L'Enfer, 203. 
Le Sars, 86, 90, 91, 92. 
Le Transloy, 86, 92. 
Le Verguier, 170. 
Le Waton, 224. 
Lee, Lieut., 119, 121. 
Lens, 109, 116, 119. 
Lesboeufs, 86, 87. 
Lestrem, 201. 

Libyan Desert, The, 24, 25, 39. 
Liebson, Capt. S., 82, 172, 354. 
Li6ge, 250. 
Ligny-Thilloy, 92. 
Lilbum, Lieut., 85. 
Lille, 195, 240. 
Locon, 202. 

Locre, 211, 212, 213, 218. 
Long, Mr. Walter, 109. 
Longueval, 52, 53, 56, 57, 58, 59, 

60, 61, 65, 67, 71, 72, 76, 77, 

86, 188. 
Longuyon, 252. 
Loos, Battle of, 22, 44. 
Losses. See Casualties. 
Lucas, Lieut. E. D., 144. 
Ludendorff, General, 148, 149, 

151* 158, 160, 164, 171, 182, 

194, 195, 197, 203, 210, 214, 
216, 228, 230, 240, 245, 250. 

Lukin, Maj.-Gen. Sir H. T., ap- 
pointed to command Infantry 
Brigade, 19 ; at Agagia, 31- 
35 ; in advance on Solium, 
36-40 ; 52, 53 ; at Delville 
Wood, 58-74 ; reviews rem- 
nant of Brigade, 78 ; at Butte 
de Warlencourt, 93-100 ; 
commands 9th Division, 103 ; 
at Third Ypres, 134, 135, 156 
n. ; relinquishes command of 
9th Division, 155-6 ; Sir D. 
Haig's tribute, 156 n. ; 349. 

Lumbres, 224. 

Lumm's Farm, 198, 199, 201. 

Lys, River, 132, 195, 196, 201, 
202, 217 ; Battle of, 195-214. 

M'Carter, Lieut. R. G. A., 234. 
M'Cubbin, Capt., 138. 
M'Donald, Capt. A. W. H., 72, 81, 

144. 354- 

Macfarlane, Lieut. B. N., 54. 

MacFie, Sec.-Lieut. T. G., 209, 354. 

MacGregor, Sec.-Lieut. R., 247. 

Mackay, Lieut., 223. 

Mackie, Sec.-Lieut. D. C, 223, 354. 

MacLeod, Lieut.-Col. D. M., com- 
mands 4th Regiment, 5^ ; at 
Delville Wood, 74 n., 82, 84 
n. ', at Third Ypres, 136 ; in 
Somme Retreat, 169, 174, 
175, 188 ; in advance on Le 
Cateau, 225, 236 ; 350. 

M'Millan, Lieut., 243. 

Machine-Gun Battery, 9th, 181 ; 
company, 28th Brigade, 51, 

Mackensen, General von, 22. 
Maedelstaede Farm, 203. 
Maitland, 20. 
Malcolm, Maj.-Gen. Neill, 226. 



Male, Sec. -Lieut., 223. 

Mallett, Lieut., 95, 96. 

Malta, 26. 

Maltzhorn Ridge, 52, 53, 64. 

Mametz, 48, 85. 

Mandy, Sec-Lieut. G. J. S., 153. 

Mangin, General, 224, 230, 231, 

249, 252. 
Maretz, 235. 

Maricourt, 47, 50, 83, 189. 
Maritz, Colonel, 13. 
Marne, River, 216, 224. 
Marrieres Wood, 180 ; the stand 

of the S. Africans at, 18 1-8 ; 

193, 214, 229, 258. 
Martinpuich, 86, 87, 91. 
Marwitz, General von der, 177, 

Masnieres, 151. 
Mason, Capt. C. E., 335, 336. 
Matruh. See Mersa Matruh. 
Maubeuge, 241, 252. 
Maurois, 235, 236, 237, 238. 
Maxse, Lieut.-Gen. Sir Ivor, 56, 

146, 176. 
Maxwell, Brig. -Gen. F., 134, 144. 
Maxwell, Maj.-Gen. Sir John, 27, 

30 n., 40. 
Meaulte, 48. 
Medean Pass, 37. 
MedHcott, Capt. R. F. C, 62, 81. 
Medlicott, Lieut., 95, 96. 
Megantic, The, 43. 
Menin, 133, 134, 135, 142. 
Merris, 203. 
Mersa Matruh, 25, 26, 27, 30, 31, 

Merville, 202. 
Messines, 105, 130, 196, 198, 199, 

200, 201, 202, 203, 204, 209, 

214, 258. 
M6teren, 211, 218, 219, 220, 221 ; 

capture of, 222-4. 
Meteren Becque, 218, 220,222,224. 

Methuen, Field-Marshal Lord, 26. 

Metz, 252. 

Meuse, River, 230, 231, 249. 

Mex Camp, 27. 

Mezi^res, 240, 249, 252. 

Middle Farm (Messines]^ 199, 201, 

Miscellaneous Trades Company, 

Mitchell, Capt. F. M., 175, 355. 
Mitchell's Farm (Ypres), 138, 141. 
Moislains, 152, 154, 174, 175, 178, 

Moltke, 23. 
Monchy-Breton, 126. 
Monchy-Lagache, 176. 
Money, Lieut. A. G., 118, 119. 
Monro, General Sir Charles, 83, 84, 

Mons, 255. 

Mont des Cats, 206, 218, 221. 
Mont Rouge, 212, 213. 
Mont St. Quentin, 178. 
Montague de Paris, 224. 
Montauban, 51, 52, 59, 60, 71. 
Montay, 238, 239, 242. 
Montbliart, 256. 
Montgomery, Capt., 94. 
Montmedy, 252. 
Moore, Sir John, 46. 
Moorina, The, 25, 39. 
Morbecque, 47. 
Morland, Lieut.-Gen. Sir T. L., 

Mormal, Forest of, 241, 247, 249, 

Morrison, Lieut. R. E., 118. 
Morval, 86, 87. 
Mosilikatse, 192. 
Moulin de I'Hospice (Messines), 

Mount Pleasant, 123. 
Mouquet Farm, 86. 
Mudie, Lieut.-Col., 207. 



Mulcahy, Lieut. C. L. H., 54. 

Mullins, Major A. G., 275, 350. 

Murray, Lieut.-General Sir Archi- 
bald, 41. 

Murray, Major C. M., 251 n., 350. 

Murray-Macgregor, Major A. M., 
275» 354- 

Namur, 251, 252. 

Nelson, Private R. W., 126, 336. 

Neuf Berquin, 202. 

Neuve Chapelle, Battle of, 149. 

Neuve ifiglise, 197,202,203,206,208. 

Neuville Vitasse, 118. 

Neville, Lieut., 200. 

Newbery, Lieut. J., 138, 144. 

Newell, Lieut. W. F., 335. 

Nieppe, 201, 202, 221. 

Nieuport, 147. 

Nivelle, General, 106. 

North Midland Farm (Messines), 

North Street (Longueval),65, 66,70. 
Nose of the Switch, The (Butte de 

Warlencourt), 97, 98, 99, 100 

n., loi. 
Notts Battery, R.H.A., The, 31. 
Nourrisson, General, 53. 
Nuri Bey, 24, 32. 
Nurlu, 172, 174, 175, 177, 178. 

Observation Hill (Arras), 118. 

Oise, River, 159, 164, 235. 

Oise-Sambre Canal, The, 247, 249. 

Omignon, River, 170, 176. 

Oriana, The, 43. 

Ormiston, Major T., at Butte de 
Warlencourt, hqo, ioi ; in 
Somme Retreat, 185 ; 350. 

Ostreville, 108. 

Otavifontein, 14. 

Oughterson, Lieut., 53. 

Oultersteene, 203. 

Ovillers, 51, 

Passchendaele, 133, 146, 147. 
Pay of Infantry Brigade, 15. 
Pearse, Capt., 94, 175. 
Pearse's Trench, 94, 99. 
Peirson, Capt., 190, 191. 
Pepper, Major A. L., 18, 351. 
Peronne, 86, 87, 161, 175, 176, 177, 

178, 184. 
Perrem, Sec-Lieut. C. H., 247, 

Perry, Sec. -Lieut. H., 237. 
Pershing, General, 249, 251, 252, 

Retain, General, 45, 158, 160. 
Petite Folic Farm, 234. 
Petits Puits (Messines), 200, 201. 
Peyton, Ma j. -Gen. Sir W. E., 30, 

31, 35, 36, 38. 41- 
Phillips, Lieut. E. J., 71, 72, 

Phillips, Lieut. S. G., 352, 355. 
Piave, River, 151. 
Pick House (Messines), 198, 199, 

Pickburn, Major, 20, 274. 
Pietermaritzburg, 18. 
" Pill-Boxes," Tactics of, 131, 132, 

Pimple, The (Butte de Warlen- 
court), 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 


Ploegsteert, 196, 201, 202. 

Plumer, General Sir Herbert (Lord 
Plumer), 44, 47, 134, 160, 202, 
205, 206, 211, 217, 231. 

Point du Jour, 116. 

Polygon Wood, 146. 

Pont d';6chelles, 202. 

Pope-Hennessy, Lieut. B,, 153, 
200, 354. 

Poperinghe, 211. 

Porteous, Lieut., 125. 

Potchefstroom, 18, 20. 

Potgieter, Andries, 192. 



Potsdam Redoubt (Ypres), 138-9. 

Powell, Sec. -Lieut. C. H., 247. 

Power, Major M. B., 251, 350. 

Pozidres, 56, 86. 

Premont, 235. 

Princboom, 219. 

Princes Street (Delville Wood), 

61, 63, 67, 69, 70, 71. 
Pringle, Lieut.-Col. R. N., 251, 

Pulteney, Lieut. -Gen. Sir W., 85. 

QuAST, General von, 196. 
Queen, Her Majesty the, reviews 

Infantry Brigade, 21. 
Queen's Cross, 163. 
Quentin Redoubt, 162, 166, 168, 

Quentin Ridge, 152. 

Raids, by S. African Brigade, at 
Vimy, 84-5 ; at Arras, 105, 

Rail ton, 171. 

Railway Companies, 333-5. 
Railway Triangle, The (Arras), 

118; (Le Cateau), 244, 245, 

Ramillies, 209. 
Rancourt, 180. 
Ravelsberg, 206. 
Rawlinson, General Sir Henry 

(Lord Rawlinson), 78, 92, 230, 

231, 233, 235, 247, 249, 252. 
Regent Street (Delville Wood), 61. 
Regiment, Cape of Good Hope. 

See Regiments, South African, 

Regiment, Natal and Orange Free 

State. See Regiments, South 

African, 2nd. 
Regiment, Transvaal and Rho- 
desia. See Regiments, South 

African, 3rd. 

Regiment, Transvaal Scottish, 16. 
Regiments, Cavalry (British) — 

12th Lancers, 253, 254. 

20th Hussars, 254, 255. 

Austrahan Light Horse, 25, 28. 

Scottish Horse, 17. 

4th S. African Mounted Rifles, 

See also under Yeomanry. 
Regiments, Infantry (British) — 

Coldstream Guards, 74, 153. 

lith Royal Scots, 44, 66, 171, 

12th Royal Scots, 44, 54, 139. 
1/6 (T.) Royal Scots, 29, 31, 32. 
2nd Royal West Surrey, 55. 
i8th King's Liverpool, 226, 238. 
6th Lancashire Fusiliers, 226. 
2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers, 74, 

209, 211, 212, 213, 219, 221. 
5th South Wales Borderers, 199, 

6th King's Own Scottish Bor- 
derers, 44, 54, loi, 180. 
9th Scottish Rifles, 44, 209, 211, 

212, 218, 220, 224. 
5th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, 

9th Gloucester, 226. 
8th Black Watch, 44, 57, 211, 

Middlesex, 26; 7th, 55. 
9th Manchesters, 226. 
1 8th Manchesters, 53. 
7th Seaforth Highlanders, 

207, 208, 219. 
9th Seaforth Highlanders, 

ist Gordon Highlanders, 70. 
5th Cameron Highlanders, 44, 

57, 60, 64, 211, 215, 221, 223. 
ist Royal Irish FusiHers, 203. 
5th Connaught Rangers, 226, 






loth Argyll and Sutherland 
Highlanders, 44, 57. 

6th Royal Dublin Fusiliers, 226. 

15th Sikhs, 25, 28, 29, 30. 

New Zealand Rifle Brigade, 25, 
28, 29. 
Regiments, Infantry (German) — 

6th Bavarian, 62. 
Regiments, South African — 

zst, 16, 18 ; at Agagia, 32-5 ; 
in Somme area, 52, 53, 56 ; 
at Longueval, 58-9 ; at t)el- 
ville Wood, 59, 64, 66, 67, 
70, 71, 74; at Frevillers, 84 ; at 
Butte de Warlencourt, 93, 94, 
96, 97, 99 ; in Arras area, 
103 ; raid by, 115 ; at Battle 
of Acre, 117-23 ; at Roeux, 
123-5 .' at Third Ypres, 136, 

139, 140, 146 ; in Gouzeau- 
court area, 152, 153, 155 ; at 
Quentin Redoubt, 166, 170 ; 
in Somme Retreat, 173, 174, 
175, 179, 183, 188 ; at Battle 
of Lys, 194, 198, 199, 200, 
^01, 202, 206, 207, 208, 209 ; 
re-formed, 225 ; in advance 
on Le Cateau, 233, 234, 237, 
238, 241, 242, 243, 245, 247 ; 
as advanced guard, 254, 255. 

2nd, 16, 18 ; at Halazin, 27-30; 
in Somme area, 52, 53, 54, 
56 ; at Delville Wood, 59, 
62, 63, 67, 68, 74 ; raid at 
Vimy, 85 ; at Butte de War- 
lencourt, 91, 92, 93, 94 ; in 
Arras area, 103 ; at Battle 
of Arras, 11 7-1 23 ; at Roeux, 
123-5 » at Third Ypres, 136, 

140, 141, 146 ; in Gouzeau- 
court area, 152, 153, 154 ; 
at Gauche Wood, 162 ; in 
Somme Retreat, 169, 171, 
172, 173, 174, 175, 181, 185 ; 

at Battle of the Lys, 194, 198, 
199, 201, 206, 207, 208, 209 ; 
re-formed, 225 ; in advance 
to Le Cateau, 233, 234, 235, 
237, 241, 242, 243, 245, 247. 
3yd, 16, 18; at Agagia, 32-5; 
in Somme area, 52, 56, 58 ; 
at Delville Wood, 59, 62, 63, 
69, 71, 74 ; at Butte de War- 
lencourt, 93, 94, 95, 96, 98, 
100 ; in Arras area, 103 ; raid 
by, 1 08; at Battle of Arras, 
117-23 ; at Third Ypres, 135. 
137. 138, i39» 140. 146; in 
Gouzeaucourt area, 152, 153, 
154 ; disbanded, 155, 157. 
4th, 16, 17, 18, 21 ; in Somme 
area, 52, 53 ; at Trones 
Wood, 54-6 ; at Delville 
Wood, 59, 60, 62, 64, 71, 74 ; 
at Butte de Warlencourt, 93, 
94, 99, 100 ; in Arras area, 
103 ; at Battle of Arras, 117- 
123 ; at Roeux, 123-5 .' at 
> Third Ypres, 136, 137, 140, 
146 ; in Gouzeaucourt area, 
152, 153, 155; in Somme 
Retreat, 169, 171, 172, 173, 
174, 175, 179, 184 ; at Battle 
of the Lys, 194, 198, 199, 200, 
201, 202, 206, 207, 208, 209 ; 
re-formed, 225 ; in advance 
to Le Cateau, 233, 234, 236, 
237, 241, 243, 244, 245. 

Reid, Capt., 118, 194. 

Reninghelst, 206. 

Rethel, 253. 

Reumont, 237, 241. 

Revelon Farm, 163, 169, 171, 172. 

Ridge Wood, 211, 212, 213. 

Ridley, Major E. G., 278, 352, 355. 

Riga. 151. 

Roberts, Sec-Lieut. C.W., 234, 355. 

Roeux, 123, 124. 



RofEe, Capt. T., 115, 352, 355. 

Rogers, Capt., 175. 

Rommen's Farm (Messines), 201. 

Ronssoy, 170, 231. 

Rorke's Drift, 192. 

Roseby, Lieut. F. R., 58, 68, 79. 

Ross, Capt., F. H., 93, 100, 355. 

Ross, Capt. F. M., 298, 314, 355. 

Ross, Lieut. J. M., 125. 

Rotten Row (Delville Wood), 61. 

Roulers, 135, 136, 139. 

Royal Engineers. See Engineers, 

Roye, 105. 
Rumania, 87. 
Russell, Capt., 55. 
Russia, 22, 43, 50, 105, 128, 129, 


Sailly-le-Sec, 47. 

Sailly-SailUsel, 86. 

St. Benin, 238, 242. 

St. Jans-Cappel, 211, 

St. Mihiel, 230. 

St. Pancras Trench (Arras), 107. 

St. Pierre Vaast Wood, 179. 

St. Pol, 83. 

St. Quentin, 159, 160, 230, 231. 

St. Sauveur (Arras), iii. 

St. Souplet, 241, 242. 

Salient. See Ypres Salient. 

Salonika, 232. 

Sambre, River, 252. 

Sauna's Post, 144. 

Sarrail, General, 87. 

Sautain, 256. 

Savernake Wood, 182. 

Saxonia, The, 27. 

Scarpe, River, 104, 107, 109, no, 

116, 121, 125, 230. 
Scheepers, Capt. J. C, 1 15, 223, 355. 
Scheldt, River, no, 231, 232, 241, 

Scherpenberg, 196, 197, 211, 213. 

Scotian, The, 43. 

Scottish Regiment, South African. 

See Regiments, S. African, 4th, 
Scottish troops. See under Divi- 
sions, gth, 15th, and 51st. 
Sedan, 249, 250, 253. 
Selle, River, 235, 238, 239, 240,. 

241, 242, 244, 245, 246, 247^ 

248, 251. 
Sens6e, River, no, 170. 
Senussi, The, 24, 25, 29, 31, 35^ 

36, 39, 41. 
Senussi, The Grand (Sidi Ahmed) ^ 

24, 26, 36, 41. 
Sequehart, 233. 
Serain, 234, 235, 249, 252. 
Shea, Maj.-Gen., 52 n. 
Sidi Barrani. See Barrani. 
Siegfried Line, 105, 106, 109, 131, 

230, 231, 233, 235. 
Signalling Company, The South 

African, 16, 21, 225, 279-316. 
Sivry, 254. 
Siwa oasis, The, 41. 
Siwiat, 38. 
Sixt von Armin, General, 130, 131, 

196, 201, 206, 208, 210, 212. 
Smith, Lieut. G., 118, 189. 
Smuts, Lieut.-Gen. J. C, 14, 18, 

114. 155. 

Snag Trench (Butte de Warlen- 
court), 92, 93, 95, 97, 98, 99, 
100, lOI. 

Snow, Lieut.-Gen. Sir Thomas, 

Society Fran9aise du Cap, 21 n. 

Solesmes, 239, 241. 

Solium, 24, 25, 31, 35-8, 40, 41. 

Solre-le-Ch§,teau, 253, 254. 

Somme, River, 176 ; Battle of 
the, 47, 48-50, 51-2, 56-8, 
86-91, 105, 117, 131, 147, 
149. See also under Delville 
Wood ; Butte de Warlencourt. 




Sorel-le-Grand, 154, 169, 173, 174. 

SoTiter, Lieut. -Col., 34. 

South- West Africa, German. See 

German S.W, Africa. 
Spanbroekmolen, 203, 206. 
Sprenger, Major L. F., 95, 96, 137, 

138, 233, 235, 236, 237. 242, 

245, 350, 355- 
Sprenger, Lieut. A. W., 175. 
Spyker, Lieut., 144, 200. 
Stapleton, Lieut. P. R., 98, 355. 
Steenbecque, 47. 
Steenbeek (Ypres), 136. 
Steenebeek (Messines), 198, 201. 
Steenstraate, 132. 
Steenwerck, 201, 202. 
Stein, Capt., 175. 
Stewart, Brig. -Gen. Ian, 248. 
Stewart, Major J. G., 272, 355. 
Stock, Colonel P. G., 18, 317, 319, 

Stokes, Lieut., 214. 
Store Farm (Messines), 207, 208. 
Strand, The (Delville Wood), 61, 

68, 69, 70. 
Strannock, Lieut. W. G., 30. 
Suez Canal, 23. 
Suvla Bay, 30. 

Swayne's Farm (Messines), 199. 
Sweeney, Sec-Lieut. W. P., 144. 
Symmes, Major H. C, 121. 
Symons, Capt. T. H., 234, 356. 

Tabruk, 39. 

Tail Trench (Butte de Warlen- 
court), 92, 93, 95, 97, 98, 100. 
Talus Boise, 52, 54, 55, 72. 
TampUn, Major E. H., 273, 

Tanner, Brig.-Gen. W. E. C, com- 
mands 2nd Regiment, 18 ; at 
Halazin, 27-30 ; at Delville 
Wood, 60-69, 78, 80 ; 83 n. ; 
at Arras, 117 ; commands 

8th Brigade, 147 ; commands 
S. African Brigade, 194, 196 ; 
at Battle of the Lys, 197, 204, 
207, 208, 210, 211, 212 ; in 
advance to Le Cateau, 237 ; 
at capture of Le Cateau, 245 ; 
with advanced guard, 253--6 ; 

349, 350. 

Tar a. The, 25, 39. 

Telegraph Hill (Arras), 118. 

Templeux, 170. 

Terry, Lieut., 175. 

Thackeray, Lieut. -Col. E. F., com- 
mands 3rd Regiment, 18 ; at 
Agagia, 33 ; at Delville Wood, 
69-72, 74, 81 ; at Butte de 
Warlencourt, 94 ; at Arras, 
117 ; at Third Ypres, 136, 

143 ; 349, 350. 

Thelus, 109. 

Thesiger, Maj.-Gen. George, 44. 

Thiepval, 86, 87, 88, 89. 

Thieushoek, 219. 

Thomas, Lieut. W. F. G., 108, 119, 

Thompson, Lieut. W. H., 202. 
Thompson, Sergeant D., 224, 369. 
Thomson, Capt. A. M., 243. 
Tilloy-lez-Mofflaines, 109. 
Tintoretto, The, 43. 
Tobias, Capt., 200. 
TomUnson, Capt. L. W., 41, 62, 

137, 236, 350- 
Tortille, River, 177, 178. 
Tournai, 252. 
Training School for Disabled Men, 

The, 330-1- 
Trench Mortar Battery, S. African 

Brigade, 51, 71, 225. 
Trescault, 127. 

Trethewy, Sec-Lieut. B. D., 144. 
Tripoli, 23, 41. 
Tripp, Lieut. -Col. W. H. L., 20, 

276, 277, 350. 



Trones Wood, 48, 51, 52, 53, 54, 

55, 56. 64, 188. 
Tudor, Maj.-Gen., 156, 178, 179, 

180, 184, 189, 196, 206, 207, 

220, 226. 
Tulip Cottages (Ypres), 141. 
Tyndale-Biscoe, Brig.-Gen., 28. 

Ulundi, 19. 

Unjeila, 26, 31, 32, 35. 

Usigny, 233. 

Usmar, Lieut.-Col. G. H., 20, 317, 

Uys, Lieut., 221. 

Valenciennes, 237, 240, 247, 

249, 252. 
Vampir Farm (Ypres), 138. 
Van Damme Farm (Messines), 

207, 208. 
Van Deventer, General Sir J. L., 

Van Ryneveld, Lieut. (R.F.C.), 

Van Ryneveld, Lieut. T. V., 

Vaucellette Farm, 168, 169. 
Vaux, 176. 
Vechtkop, 192. 
Vendhuile, 151. 
Verdun, 22, 45, 48, 49, 73, 130, 

142, 158. 
Vesle, River, 231. 
Victoria Crosses won by S. Afri- 
cans, 341-8. 
Vierstraat, 206, 209, 211, 212. 
Villers, 233. 
Villers-Guislain, 162. 
Villers-Outreaux, 233, 234. 
Vimy, 84, 105, no, in, 113, 116, 

Vivian, Capt. E. V., 118, 120, 137, 

138, 144, 356. 
Voormezeele, 211, 212, 213. 

Voyennes, 176. 
Vraignes, 176. 

Wadi Senaab, 25. 

Walfisch Bay, 19. 

Wallace, Maj.-Gen., 25, 26, 27^ 

Walsh, Capt. J. D., 30. 
Walsh, Lieut. F. G., 85, 356. 
Wanqueton, 103. 
War, S. African (i 899-1902), 19, 

26; Zulu, 19. 
Ward, Capt. A. E., 175, 200, 352, 

Ward, Major C. P., 276, 350. 
Warnave, River, 196. 
Waterend Farm, 141. 
Waterloo, Battle of, 114, 252. 
Waterlot Farm, 64. 
Watson, Maj.-Gen., 41. 
Watts, Lieut.-Gen. Sir H. E., 

176, 177. 
Webb, Lieut. M., 174. 
Webber, Major, 126. 
Wellington, Duke of, 252. 
Welsh, Capt. T., 76-7, 126, 356. 
Wepener, 19. 
Western Frontier Force, The 

(Egypt), 25, 30. 
Westminster, Major the Duke of, 

33. 38, 40- 
Whelan, Lieut. M. E., 243, 356. 
Williams, Sec. -Lieut. D. A., 144. 
Wilson, Field-Marshal Sir Henry, 

Windhoek, 14. 

Wulverghem, 202, 203, 204, 208. 
Wynberg, 20. 
Wytschaete, 195, 197, 198, 199, 

200, 202, 203, 204, 206, 207, 

208, 209, 210. 

Yeomanry, Bucks (Royal Bucks 
Hussars), 28, 31, 34 ; Dorset, 



28, 31, 34, 35, 36 ; Herts, 28 ; 

Duke of Lancaster's, 28. 
Young, Lieut. A., 82, 100. 
YoUng, Lieut.-Col., 174, 189, 

Ypres, 146, 218, 221, 231 ; First 

Battle of, 74, 142, 158, 209 ; 

Third Battle of, 138-47, 248, 

258; Salient, 44, 73, 105, 
130, 131, 133, 142, 200. 
Ypres-Comines Canal, 212. 

Zandvoorde, 132. 
Zevenkote, 136, 141. 
Zillebeke, 132. 
Zonnebeke, 136, 146. 


MA^ 87 1933 

13 28 I < 



W4R 2 4 '65-1 PM 

v:- -.;i|987